Written by Vladimir Moss




     The mystery of Christianity is the mystery of God’s indwelling in us – “the Kingdom of God is within you”. All religions express the desire for union with God or that which is thought to be God to a greater or lesser extent. But only in Christ is the mystery of union with the True God achieved in fact.

     In order to prepare mankind for the reception of this mystery, God instituted the symbolism of the Temple, the dwelling-place of God. First, this temple was a simple tabernacle, or box, called the ark of the covenant, which was carried by the Levites, the priestly tribe of the Old Testament, wherever the people of God went. Under King David a permanent dwelling for the ark was found in Jerusalem. Then under King Solomon a Temple was built and the ark was transferred into the Holy of Holies. But the Temple was destroyed, and the ark disappeared… 

     During the period of the First Temple, it was forbidden for the Jews to worship or sacrifice anywhere except in the Temple in Jerusalem. This was to teach us that there is no true worship except in the true Temple of God, which is Christ, the only mediator between God and man. After the death of King Solomon, there was a rebellion against his son Rehoboam by ten of the twelve tribes under Jeroboam, who erected rival places of worship in Bethel and Dan. A man of God from Judah came to Bethel and cursed the altar there (III Kings 13). Bethel and Dan and the later cultic centre of Samaria were all considered to be unholy by the people of God, as having been set up in schism from the One True Church centred in Jerusalem.

     The Holy Spirit descended visibly onto the tabernacle in the time of Moses, and onto the Holy of Holies in the time of Solomon (III Kings 8.10-11). But we do not read of any such descent when the Second Temple was built, after the return of the Jews from their 70-year exile in Babylon. The reason for this was that the Second Temple, according to the plan of God, was to be sanctified in a different way – by the entrance into it of the Mother of God. As the kontakion for the feast of the Entrance says, “on this day she is brought into the House of the Lord, bringing with her the grace that is in the Holy Spirit.” “The pure ewe-lamb of God, the undefiled turtle-dove, the tabernacle containing God, the sanctuary of glory, hath chosen to dwell within the holy tabernacle” (Mattins canon, ode 3).

     Of course, not only the Mother of God, but Christ Himself entered the Second Temple, sanctifying it by His presence. That is why the Prophet Haggai said of the Second Temple: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord” (Haggai 2.9). Indeed, Christ Himself is the Temple of God. For “in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2.9).  As He said Himself, speaking of His Body: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2.19).

     So the Body of Christ is the Temple, housing His Divinity. And the Mother of God is the Temple, housing Christ. And the Second Temple is the Temple that housed the Mother of God after her Entry.

     Finally, each Christian who receives in himself the Body and Blood of Christ becomes thereby a living temple of God. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you?” (I Corinthians 6.19)… St. Seraphim had his famous conversation with Motovilov on the acquisition of the Holy Spirit during the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. This could hardly have been a coincidence. The aim of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit and become temples of God in imitation of the Mother of God, preserving that temple undefiled until the Coming of the Lord.


November 21 / December 4, 2013.

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple.

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