Two Marys

Sermon notes

Sunday of Mary of Egypt; the eve of the Annunciation

    1. Tale of 2 Marys
      1. Both raised in piety.
      2. About age 13 one said Yes to the archangel, one ran away to become a prostitute
      3. One lived in purity. The other, after conversion, spent years in repentance
      4. By grace, both gained holiness through their obedience; both are now our intercessors
    2. Moment of repentance
      1. St Silouan: vision of snake. Theotokos: “Your life is distasteful to me.”
      2. Mary of Egypt at the church door: her prayer to the Mother of God
    3. Contrast: One’s a virgin, one’s a prostitute
      1. But that’s superficial: Sex isn’t the issue.
      2. Promiscuity is a cultural icon for “the worst.”
      3. Both genders struggle with every temptation.
    4. In common: Struggle, salvation, sanctity
      1. The Theotokos said Yes every time
      2. Mary of Egypt repented and then said Yes
        1. It’s a mistake to see her as a reformed prostitute. It’s a mistake to see ourselves as a former-anything.
        2. We meet her in the Life of St Mary as a struggler, growing in grace.
        3. Icons show her as an ascetic, not a former-anything.
        4. She relies on the grace of God by intercession of the Theotokos
        5. Outcome: She attains to holiness like her own intercessor
      3. Together Mary of Egypt and Mary the Theotokos stand with us before the Lord and hold us up. The whole Church does.
    5. In temptation and in repentance: The Communion of saints
      1. Great cloud of witnesses. Lent as arena. Life as Lent.
      2. We can sin alone, but we repent and struggle in the Church
        1. Mary the mother of God knows this. We meet her once outside the Gospels: Acts 1:14, and where is she? She is praying amid the Church.
        2. No lone rangers, no solitary white-knuckle endurance: A single cord is easily broken.
          • Lost cat this week. Cats run away when they’re hurt, and you find them cold and hurt and alone under the porch or in the garage.
          • Alone in outer darkness is not where you’ll find healing or transformation.
        3. Liturgical life, immersion in fellowship, full confession, Holy Communion
        4. Remember the saints: read their lives, reverence their icons, meditate on their teachings, speak to them often.
        5. Remember the saints: This household of faith intercedes for you; be in the services, be in one another’s kitchens, tell each other what you’re reading and struggling with.
        6. Restore one another, bear one another’s burdens.
        7. Members [body parts] of one another. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you. If one body part suffers, every part suffers with it. Broken toe
          gives the strongest man a limp.
    6. Goal
      1. Acts snapshot: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
      2. May we not be found carrying our load of temptation, thoughts, regrets, alone.
      3. May we be found together with Mary of Egypt and Mary the Mother of God, in the midst of this people the Church, in the communion of saints, bearing one another’s burdens and being built together into a temple in the Lord.

Fr Silouan Thompson

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