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.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
And as Jesus entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Luke 17: 12-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of the benefits of writing these daily message is how much I get to learn. This small sub-unit of five reflections relates to “titles” that we give to Jesus. Yesterday, we discussed Jesus as King. Today we will discuss Him as “Master.” The word “Master” is used many times in English in reference to Jesus. However, when one read the Gospel in the original Koine Greek, there are several words used which are translated in English as “Master,” and none of them is “Despota” which is the modern Greek for “Master.”
In today’s verse, when Jesus encountered the Ten Lepers, they called him “Epistata”, the only time this word is used in reference to Jesus. In Mark 10:51, when Jesus encounters a blind man and asks the man if he wants to receive his sight, the man answers “Master, let me receive my sight.” In this case, the word in Greek is “Rabbouni” which can mean “master” and is closely related to “Rabbi” which means teacher.
We know that Rabbis were teachers in the Jewish temple. This was a very exclusive title. The Rabbi was the head teacher, the best of the instructors, the “master” of understanding the scriptures. So, in speaking of Jesus as “Master”, we are not so much referring to Him as the owner and we are the underling, we are speaking as though He is the expert, and we are the apprentice.
Many of us are familiar with the Star Wars movies. The Jedi Knights begin as apprentices to a Jedi Master. The apprentice, or “padawan” even calls the Jedi Master “master.” As we call Jesus our “Master” let us pause to think of Him as an “expert” in how to live in communion with God. In another writing, we will speak of Him as Lord, for He is that. He is also our Savior. But for today’s discussion, let’s think of Him as expert, and ourselves as apprentices. Going back to the Star Wars example, the Masters wanted to see their apprentices become “Jedi Masters”. And the apprentices yearned to be like their “Masters.”
In Christianity, Jesus desires us to be like Him—loving, forgiving, merciful, faithful. He desires us to be in communion with Him. And we, as the “apprentices” if you will, should desire to be like Him, to be able to live in a Christ-like way, to be able to offer Christ-like forgiveness, mercy and love.
Yesterday, we discussed Jesus as King, which put us in relation to Him as His servants. Today, we have looked at Him as “Master” and we as apprentices, desiring to become like our Master. No, we can never be God. But we can become God-like. There is a term for this in the Orthodox world, and that word is “Theosis,” or in English, “deification.” This is the most Godly state of being that there is. While “Theosis” cannot be achieved in this world—it is the state we will live in in the Kingdom of Heaven, should be blessed to be admitted to Heaven—it is what we are to work for. Theosis means God-like a special oneness with God.
Imagine standing in the back of the church, looking up at the icons in the front. There are pews and people, sunlight and windows and lots of other things between you and the icon of the Lord. Then you start walking towards the icon. The closer you get to the icon, the less and less you see around you, until you are so close to the icon that that is all you see. This is what the journey to Theosis is, a putting aside of everything so that it is all about Christ and a sense of oneness with Him. That doesn’t mean that all we do is stare at an icon all day, but rather, we walk with Christ in every decision, every step, and ultimately in every breath.
To Thee I lift up my eyes, o Thou who art enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their Master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He have mercy on us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Too long our soul has been sated with the scorn of those who are at ease, the contempt of the proud. Psalm 123
If Jesus is the Master and we are the apprentice, make a deliberate effort each day to imitate the Master and strive to become more like Him!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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