Encounter between God and Mary

March 25: Feast of the Annunciation

AnnunciatonAs we celebrate this great feast of the Annunciation (March 25, cf. Luke 1: 26-38) we are allowed to be privileged observers of an encounter.   We can look into one of the most extraordinary and dramatic moments in all human history, carefully recorded for our benefit.   It is an encounter between God and Mary.   Of course God, who has countless angels to wait upon him and do his bidding, could send a messenger - the archangel Gabriel.   Mary, who describes herself in humble terms, must speak for herself.

God is all powerful, great and almighty.   He made all things by his Word, and sustains all things by his mighty arm.   Yet just for a moment he waits upon the answer of the Virgin.   Though he rules all things, he is no tyrant.   He asks for the assent and the cooperation of one of his creatures.   And for just a moment, all God’s plans and designs for our salvation hinge upon her response.  She is simple, poor, and describes herself as of ‘low estate’.   But for just a moment she has it within her provenance to either allow or forbid God’s great design.  The whole plan for our salvation depends upon her decision!

We can marvel that our God respects her so much, that he becomes subject to her word.  His respect was well placed, and she did not disappoint him or us.  His Word became her child, and we have been saved thereby.  The humble handmaid has been exalted, and we count ourselves among the generations that call her ‘blessed’.

As observers of such a sacred moment in history, we could focus on the great generosity of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.   Her affirmation of God’s plan of salvation came at a great personal cost, and showed the depth of the trust she had in God.  ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’   God regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, and she was exalted.

We might consider ourselves, the observers at this Mystery, the Annunciation.  This is a story about God and Mary, but it is our story, too.   Its light also reveals something of our own relationship with God.   Though he is all powerful and can do all things, he waits upon us.   He neither imposes his grace upon us, nor does he bless us against our wishes.   He acts in a way that respects our dignity, honoring the persons we are.   We are free, and it is our right to exercise that freedom either giving assent to his plans which are for our good and for our salvation, or denying him and his will for us.  For a moment, the Almighty grants us the power even to reject him, and in our arrogance we can be scattered in the proud imagination of our hearts.

Mary responded with courage and faith.  On this feast of the Annunciation, let us ask her to help us.   May she be our Mother also, instructing us as a mother would, in the ways of courage and faith!  For those who willingly accept to cultivate the servant’s heart and who place their full trust in God; discover that they also have spirits that magnify the Lord, and find joy in God their Savior: God’s plan is ‘in remembrance of his mercy’.   But for just a moment, he waits upon us, while we choose and speak for ourselves.  Though it is always a factor of God’s great generosity and power, in a wonderful moment of grace, his plan also gives place to our decision.

Written by a Byzantine Catholic Hieromonk.


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Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Scripture

January 1, 2018
Circumcision of the Lord
St. Basil the Great
Vespers: Genesis 17:1-2, 4, 5-7, 8, 9-10, 11-12, 14, Proverbs 8:22-30, Proverbs 10:31-11:12,
Matins: John 10:9-16
Liturgy: Colossians 2:8-12, Luke 2:20-21,40-52, Hebrews 7:26-8:2, Luke 6:17-23

- Tuesday: 1 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Matthew 3:1-11
- Wednesday: 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Matthew 1:1-8
- Thursday: James 1:19-27, Mark 10:17-27
- Friday: 1 Cor 9:19-27, Luke 3:1-18

January 6, 2018
Theophany of the Lord
- First Royal Hour: Isaiah 35:1-10, Acts 13:25-32, Matthew 3:1-11
- Third Royal Hour: Isaiah 1:16-20, Acts 19:1-18, Mark 1:1-8
- Sixth Royal Hour: Isaiah 12:3-6, Romans 6:3-11, Mark 1:9-15
- Ninth Royal Hour: Isaiah 49:8-15, Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7, Matthew 3:13-17
- Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: 1) Genesis 1:1-13, 2) Exodus 14:15-18, 21-23, 27-29, 3) Exodus 15:22-27; 16:1, 4) Joshua 3:7,8,15-17, 5) 2 Kings 2:6-14, 6) 2 Kings 5:9-14, 7) Isaiah 1:16-20, 8) Genesis 32:1-10, 9) Exodus 2:5-10, 10) Judges 6:36-40, 11) 1 Kings 18:30-39, 12) 2 Kings 2:19-22, 13) Isaiah 49:8-15, 1 Corinthians: 9:19-27, Luke 3:1-18
- Blessing of Water: Isaiah 35:1-10, Isaiah 55:1-13, Isaiah l 12:3-6, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, Mark 1:9-11
- Matins: Mark 1:9-11
- Liturgy: Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7, Matthew 3:13-17

January 7, 2018
Sunday After Theophany
Synaxis of St. John the Baptist
- Matins: John 20:19-31
- Liturgy: Ephesians 4:7-13, Matthew 4:12-17, Acts 19:1-8, John 1:29-34

Thirty-Second Week After Pentecost
- Monday: James 2:14-26, Mark 10:46-52
- Tuesday: James 3:1-10, Mark 11:11-23
- Wednesday: James 3:11-4:6, Mark 11:23-26
- Thursday: James 4:7-5:9, Mark 11:27-33
- Friday: 1 Peter 1:1-2, 10-12, 2:6-10, Mark 12:1-12
- Saturday: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23, Luke 17:3-10

January 14, 2018
Zacchaeus Sunday
- Matins: John 21:1-14
- Liturgy: 1 Timothy 4:9-15, Luke 19:1-10

Week of the Publican and Pharisee
- Monday: 1 Peter 2:21-3:9, Mark 12:13-17
- Tuesday: 1 Peter 3:1-22, Mark 12:18-27
- Wednesday: 1 Peter 4:1-11, Mark 12:28-37
- Thursday: 1 Peter 4:12-5:5, Mark 22:38-44
- Friday: 2 Peter 1:1-10, Mark 13:1-8
- Saturday: 2 Timothy 2:11-19, Luke 18:2-8

January 21, 2018
Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
- Matins: John 21:15-25
- Liturgy: 2 Timothy 3:10-15, Luke 18:10-14

Week of the Prodigal Son
- Monday: 2 Peter 1:20-2:9, Mark 13:9-13
- Tuesday: 2 Peter 2:9-22, Mark 13:14-23
- Wednesday: 2 Peter 3:1-18, Mark 13:24-31
- Thursday: 1 John 1:8-2:6, Mark 13:31-14:2
- Friday: 1 John 2:7-17, Mark 14:3-9
- Saturday: 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Luke 20:45-21:4

January 28, 2018
Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
- Matins: Matthew 28:16-20
- Liturgy: 2 Timothy 3:10-15, Luke 18:10-14

Feasts & Fasts

January
1 - Circumcision of Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ
Feast of St. Basil the Great, Sunday Before Theophany, New Year's Day (Civil)
6 - Theophany of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
7 - Sunday After Theophany
14 - Sunday of Zacchaeus
15 - Martin Luther King Day (USA)
21 - Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
28 - Sunday of the Prodigal Son
30 - Synaxis of the Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom

February
2 - Encounter of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna
3 - First All-Souls Saturday
4 - Sunday of the Second Coming of Christ (Meat-Fare)
11 - Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare)
12 - Beginning of the Holy Forty Days Fast
18 - First Sunday of the Great Fast (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
19 - Washington's Birthday (President's Day) (USA)
24 - Second All-Souls Saturday
25 - Second Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Gregory Palamas)

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Prayer is grace. God gives it when there exists zeal and humility…. Let Christ not be missing from your heart.