Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Good morning Prayer Team!
As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on August 15, this week’s series of devotions are dedicated to her. The Virgin Mary is for us, the role model for every human being. She is honored above anything in the created world. Born from a woman, in the same way that we are born, her life honored God each and every step of the way.
Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary was probably only 14 or 15 at the time of the Annunciation, when she was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told she would bear the Christ in her womb. She had been raised among the temple priests from the age of two or three, preparing for a life of service to God. She was also betrothed to a man named Joseph.
The Angel told her that she was going to do something that was:
~Impossible-She was going to have a child by the Holy Spirit. Who had ever heard of such a thing?
~Hard to explain-How do you explain to your fiancé that you are pregnant, but not by another man? Who could believe that?
~Risky-Assuming that Joseph would believe her, they both risked the scorn of society to be pregnant and unwed.
And Mary’s response to all of this, remember that she is 14 or 15, and at this moment, by herself. There is no parent present, no friend, no one to talk this through with. Mary’s response “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” The most important “Yes” in the history of humanity. What faith! What confidence!
Each of us is called to something. And whatever that something is-parenting, teaching, marriage, priesthood, medicine-none of us knows how it will end. I know that as a teenager and young adult, I tried to run away from a calling to the priesthood-I wasn’t as eager as Mary. I was actually pretty scared. We aren’t told Mary’s state of mind-did she cry? Was she in fear? Did she stay up nights worrying about what the angel told her? The most important part of the story is not how she felt, but what she did. Scared or not, she said YES and faithfully fulfilled God’s call for her life.
In fulfilling each of our callings in life, it’s okay if we are scared. It’s okay to cry, or feel nervous, or stay awake and worry. But the overarching theme to our life has to be YES to God’s call. And as the saying goes, it means “letting go and letting God.” It means that God isn’t your co-pilot, but that He is the PILOT. It means trusting in what we don’t know, embracing the opportunities and gifts He gives us, and putting faith in His promises to us. Thankfully Mary said YES to God’s call for her, and because she did, salvation came to all the world. Imagine if she had said NO.
In some way, we are all like the Virgin Mary-God has asked each of us to allow Him to take up residence in us, for each of us to be a “Theotokos,” a God-bearer. He has asked each of us to honor Him with our lives, and to spread His word by our example. So what is your answer?
Thank You Lord for the gift of Your Son, who came to earth as a servant to rescue us from our sins and show us the path to Paradise. Thank You for the beautiful example of the Virgin Mary, whose YES helped make that possible. Please give me the strength to answer the call You have chosen for my life. And please give me the strength to answer whatever call is going to come my way today. Help me to be Your servant. Help me let it be according to Your will. Amen.
Have a great day!
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