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.”
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 “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.” Luke 1: 46-49
Good morning Prayer Team!
In the service of the Salutations to the Virgin Mary, we hear dozens of “praises” being sung of her. Many of these are unique to the Virgin Mary. For instance in the third stanza of the Salutations, we hear “Rejoice, for you were pregnant with the Guide for the errant.” (Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes) This phrase obviously refers to Christ as the “guide” and to the Virgin Mary, who carried Him in pregnancy.
There are, however, other phrases of the Salutations where you can remove her name and add your own. Let me give a few examples:
Rejoice, for angelic life you exemplified.
Rejoice, fertile tree with luscious fruit, by which believes are sustained.
Rejoice, foliaged tree beneath which are many sheltered in its shade.
Would anyone mistake you for an angel? If your Christian life was compared to a tree, would it offer fruit to sustain those around you? Would it be luscious or barren? Would it have shade to give shelter to others?
Many of these praises that we are lauding to the Virgin Mary are things we are supposed to be doing ourselves. We are not called upon to “give birth” to Christ, but we are called to carry Him within us. We are not called to raise Christ, but we are called to protect His Divine message, to share it and to spread it. We are human beings and not angels, yet we are called to play the role of the angels: to spread the word of God, to be His messengers, and to praise Him, like the angels.
The feast of the Annunciation in Greek is called “Evangelismos”. This word means “Good news.” The Gospel is called the “Evangelion.” And the authors of the Gospel are called “Evangelists.” These words all have the same root, which is “Good news.” So, this feast of the Annunciation is literally “The Feast of the Good News,” the day that God announced to the world through this message to the Virgin Mary, that our salvation was going to come in the person of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son. This is good news indeed. As we celebrate this feast, we should ask ourselves if our lives reflect the Good News of Christ. Are we spreaders of this good news or any other good news? Are we positive people who encourage others? Or are we negative people who discourage them? Are we hopeful people or people who have lost hope?
This feastday, and the services of the Salutations that are near it this Lent, remind us of who God has called us to be. He has called us to salvation. He has called us to live His message of salvation. He has called us to be like the angels, praising God and spreading the message. He has called us to be a tree that gives fruit and shade by serving others, and by encouraging them.
Will anyone mistake you for an angel? Do you seek to “feed” and “give shade” to others?
Seeing how beautiful was your virginity, and how your purity shone forth resplendently, amazed was Gabriel who cried to you thus, O Theotokoks: “What shall I present to you as a worthy encomium? What shall address you as? At a loss and perplexed am I. And therefore I, as ordered, cry out to you: Rejoice, O Maiden full of grace!”
Be an angel to someone today! Give someone spiritual fruit and shade in the form of help and encouragement!
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: Time and Date
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