19th Sunday after Pentecost
On October 1 Julian Calendar (October 14 on the Gregorian), Ukrainians celebrate a Feast day that is of special significance to them. It is the Feast of the Protecting Veil of Mary, the Mother of God. The origins of the Feast hail nearly a millennia ago when a vision of the Mother of God extending her head-covering over the worshipers in a Church in Constantinople inspired the people to repel an invasion of the city. The Feast came to Ukraine with the reception of the Christian faith. Like every human being Ukrainians love and revere mothers. And our land is so desirable and vulnerable that we have been popular targets for invasion and domination. The reminder of a Mother who protects - not only from, but in - times of distress is so appealing! We have just recently celebrated this Feast, and our sister Parish in Montreal is celebrating it as its Patronal Feast today. Lets reflect on what Mary meant to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour and to us, His followers.
As His Mother she was His first teacher and role model. The wonderful compassion He showed, the wise and courageous words of truth He spoke, and the amazing works He did are signs of His Divine nature. But this Divine nature is also perfectly one with His human nature. And that human nature is forever impacted by His experience of His wonderful mother, Mary. So His character, His words, His actions are also reflections of hers.
According to John's Gospel it was Mary, Jesus' mother, who initiated His first miracle at the wedding feast by pointing out the bridal couple's need of wine for their guests, and by telling the servants to do what Jesus would tell them to. He had said: "My time has not come yet". When she showed faith in her Son, Who had as yet done no miracles (according to the canonical Gospels), she brought about that fulness of time for Him to act, to reveal Himself as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
Mary also had an important part to play in Jesus' supreme and ultimate act: His self-offering upon the Cross for all of creation. The pain and suffering He had to endure are impossible for us to begin to comprehend. Crucifixion was a punishment devised expressly to utterly devastate a human being as others watched - to serve as the sternest of warnings of the danger of transgressing against the Roman Empire. In addition to this there was the infinitely greater pain of identifying with the sins of all creation - He had to do this to unite fully with us and so to transform us. His Mother standing beside Him, sharing - as much as she could - His pain, loving Him and believing that here, too, He would emerge triumphant, helped Him to do this immense task. When He rose - she rose with Him! Thank God for this wonderful Mother He gave to His Son - and to us. Thank God for her strong, loving protection!
V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash