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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
And Mary said, “Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Good morning Prayer Team!
The Archangel Gabriel came to a village named Nazareth, and visited a young girl named Mary, who, history tells us, was probably fourteen years old at the time of the Archangel’s visit. The Archangel brought her extraordinary news: She was going to bear God’s Son. His birth would be caused by the Holy Spirit, not by the man to whom she was betrothed. The angel didn’t immediately announce to Mary that her Son would die a horrific death. What would have been apparent right away to Mary was that her reputation would be on the line—how would she explain becoming pregnant to Joseph, or to anyone else? This very young, very alone (remember Mary’s parents died when she was very young) woman was being presented with an overwhelming task.
In order for God’s miracles to take place, they have involved ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary faith. And none was more extraordinary than Mary’s “YES” to the announcement by the Archangel. Imagine if she had said “no”? Her answer changed the course of human history. This is why she is said to be “Greater in honor than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim.” (Megalynarion of Orthros, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes). Her “YES” was a yes to the greatest task ever given a human being—the responsibility of bearing God’s own Son.
Was her “yes” without doubts and fears? Was her “yes” with confidence or trepidation? To completely submit to the will of the Lord has to fill one with all of these things.
The Feast of the Annunciation opened the chapter of salvation in the history of humanity. Because it set in motion the Incarnation, the miracles of Christ, and THE Miracle, the Resurrection. All of these were made possible as a consequence of the Incarnation, which was made possible by a miracle of God, working in concert with the faith of humanity, in this case, represented by the Virgin Mary. The feast honors the Virgin Mary, for her faith, her humility, and her YES.
The feast also calls to our minds that we are to do the same—work in concert with God so that we, and others, can experience His miracles. The word “Theotokos” means “God bearer.” We use this title for the Virgin Mary, in honor of her bearing God in her womb. But this idea of carrying God within us is a call to everyone to be a “theotokos.” Christ asks us every day to carry Him in our hearts, our souls, and in our actions. What is our answer? What is your answer TODAY? “I am the handmaiden (or servant) of the Lord, let it be to me according to Your will” is the answer we should be offering every day. It is an answer that says, let me work in concert with You, so that Your glory is known through both ordinary and extraordinary things today.
The age-old mystery is revealed today, and the Son of God becomes the Son of ma, so that by partaking of what is lower He may impart to me what is superior. Of old, Adam was deceived; and he did not become God, though that was his desire. But now, God becomes man, to make Adam god. Let creation sing for joy, and let nature be exultant. For the archangel is standing with awe before the Virgin and is delivering the salutation, “Rejoice,” the reverse of the pain and sorrow. O our God, who in Your tender mercy became me, glory to You! (Doxastikon from Orthros of the Annunciation, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Work in concert with God today!
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.
Photo Credit: Ge+ Fed, Feed Your Fai+h
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