One Thing Needful: An Assumption Homily

The one thing needful is not to despise or resist, but to welcome, cultivate, ponder, hold onto for dear life, and constantly live in the saving Word of God

  • Who became flesh
  • Who, for our sake destroyed death and the devil;
  • Who did all this so that we might live and have true life both now in Him and His Body, and most fully in the kingdom to come.

Our Lord Jesus is the one thing needful.

As we welcome, ponder and cultivate this Word of God; as we grow in Him and He in us—then by His Spirit He transforms us, not just individually but together, in His Church, as brothers and sisters related, by grace, to Our Father. To be transformed: that is our goal, Not to make it easily or unscathed through this life, but that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head so that we all are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This transformation into the same image of the Son; this transformation from glory to glory; this transformation by the Spirit of the Lord—this is a transformation not merely of the mind and heart, or of the soul and spirit. This transformation results in a transfiguration and glorification of our very bodies—the bodies which, by the Father’s grace, were knit together in our mothers’ wombs.

  • These are the bodies which were washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
  • These are the bodies which are now temples of the Holy Spirit.
  • These are the bodies which have now been knit together by the mystery of the Lord’s Holy Supper so that those who share in the apostolic communion may be called, and truly are, the holy catholic Church.
  • And so it is these bodies which, though sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption; and though sown in dishonor, will be raised in glory; and though sown in weakness, will be raised in power; and though sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body.

Yet we are weak.

  • We live more by fear than by faith.
  • We are easily overwhelmed by our fears, by our haunting past, and by the lies and deceptions of false preachers.  
  • We are easily overcome by the anxieties of this world; by the demons that assault our mind and heart; and by thinking that fixing this decaying world is both necessary and possible.
  • We get caught up in a peace which brings no peace; and in a justice that knows no mercy.
  • All because we falsely believe that scurrying about is better than attending to wisdom.

But what shall we do? Where should our focus be? Where can we look so that we are not trapped in a utopian/dystopian cycle?

We who are weak, who easily fall prey to the devil’s lies, and who quickly succumb to our doubts and fears—the Lord knows we can argue ourselves into believing that Jesus’ resurrection will not be ours; and that His was merely another fantastic miracle. And so He gives us more that we can look to—more that will teach us and make plain to us that the one thing needful is not a waste of time, and that it will result in saving us from this body of death.

Where does Our Lord point us? To

  • the one whom all generations call blessed;
  • the one who is already the example of perfect obedience, and perfect synergy between God and man;
  • the one who willing and freely sacrificed all the things that we think matter so much;
  • the one was chosen from mankind and all creation;
  • the one who already is the icon of all the faithful, and who has taught us to say, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word”?

Without a doubt, she is a prime example of both a holy death, and what Our Lord has promised to accomplish in all those who hold to the one thing needful, as she did.

And this we know—that, like us, the Blessed Virgin Mother did not escape death. For what man can live and not see death? For it is appointed for men to die once. So, the holy Mother fell asleep peacefully in the arms of her beloved Son. Yet did she remain ensnared by death, and held captive by the grave? Holy Tradition teaches us that this vessel of God and bearer of the Life of all, without breaking any of the laws of nature, after she had died, was resurrected bodily on the third day and then ascended into the heavens. Very much like her Son.

That the Holy Theotokos was raised so quickly, so blessedly, so gloriously; and that she was raised not only from the dead but also bodily into heaven—this is taught so that we might know that Our Lord’s promise is true: that those who die trusting in the Lord are with the Lord; and that those who hear the Word of God and keep it will participate in the promised resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. Now since this is true of the Blessed Virgin Mother, the image and icon of every Christian, then we also, after resting in the grave, will be raised up bodily to be with Our Lord and to live forever with Him in His kingdom.

Now we can see, in the Virgin Mother, where the one thing needful leads.

  • By the Lord’s mercy in His Spirit, we are given the capability to grasp and not ignore, we hold fast to the Word of God made flesh.
  • By the faith He gives, we are enabled to cling steadfastly to Him and walk in the life that He is and desires to live in us.
  • By His grace in the Holy Sacraments, we are given the courage and strength to avoid offending our Lord and his holy saints angels by restraining ourselves from hurtful words and immoral deeds.
  • And by the prayers of the saints, we are supported to remain true to our Father by our constant repentance and our constant striving in the Spirit to love God and have mercy on all men.

In this way, then, we not only keep the Word of God, but we also then shall also receive the Blessed Virgin’s reward. We shall be raised from the dead in our bodies with our flesh transformed and transfigured and glorified, and then lifted up to the heavenly heights, so that, with the Blessed Virgin and all the saints, we also might continue to live more fully, more completely, more perfectly and more constantly in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.