Daily Devotional for February 13-19
Archbishop Averky commentary this week…
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [e]blessed are you among women!”
29 But [f]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [g]do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Prayer: O Lord, our God, in Thy goodness and love for men forgive me all the sins I have committed today in word, deed or thought. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep. Send Thy Guardian Angel to guard and protect me from all evil. For Thou art the guardian of our souls and bodies, and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*(Evening Prayer and Confession of Sins)
Commentary on the Annunication
In the sixth month after John the Baptist’s conception, the Angel Gabriel was sent to the small town of Nazareth, situated in the Zebulun area of the southern part of Galilee, “to a Virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary.” The Evangelist doesn’t say: “Virgin, Who was married,” but “betrothed to a man.” This means that formally and in the eyes of society, the Blessed Virgin Mary was regarded as Joseph’s wife, even though in reality, She was not.
Having lost Her parents at an early age, the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated to serving in the temple. When She turned fourteen, She was not allowed (according to the law) to remain at the temple, and was unable to return to Her parents. Following tradition, She was obliged to marry. Knowing that She made a promise to remain a virgin, the high priests and priests did not want to leave Her without a guardian, so they betrothed Her to Her relative, an eighty year old carpenter named Joseph, who was renowned for his righteousness and who also had an extensive family from his first marriage (Matthew 13:55).
In appearing to Her, the Angel called Her “full of grace,” i.e., having found favor with God (see verse 30) — God’s special love and benevolence, His help that is essential for holy and great deeds. The words of the Angel bewildered Mary by their extraordinary nature, and She commenced to ponder over them.
Prayer: O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.
Annunciation Commentary Part 2
Having calmed Her, the Angel foretells the birth of a Son from Her, Who will be great not like John, but much greater because He will not simply be full of God’s blessed gifts as John, but He Himself will be the Son of the Almighty. Why is the Angel saying that the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob? Because the Jewish kingdom in the Old Testament was predetermined to prepare people for a spiritual, eternal Kingdom of Christ and to slowly transfigure into it. Consequently, David’s kingdom as such is one in which God Himself placed kings, which was ruled according to God’s laws, in which all forms of civil life was permeated with the idea of serving God, which was found in an uninterrupted link with the New Testament Kingdom of God.
Mary’s question, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” — would have been completely incomprehensible and would have made no sense, if She hadn’t given a promise to God, to remain a Virgin forever. The Angel explained that Her promise would not be violated, as She will give birth to a Son without a husband, by extraordinary means.
Prayer: Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from Christ’s side, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O good Jesus, hear me, Within Thy wounds hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malicious enemy defend me, In the hour of my death call me, And bid me come unto Thee, That I may praise Thee with Thy saints, and with Thy angels, Forever and ever, Amen.
Annunciation Commentary part 3
The Holy Spirit, “the power of the Almighty,” will bring about this seedless conception; i.e., the Son of God Himself (see 1 Corinthians 1:24) will overshadow Her, will enter Her like a cloud akin to that which overshadowed the tabernacle, as expressed by Isaiah (19:1), “upon a swift cloud.” While the Blessed Virgin did not demand any proof, the Angel himself in confirmation of the authenticity of his words pointed to Elizabeth, who had conceived a son in her old age by the will of God, to Whom nothing is impossible. The Holy Virgin knew through the books of the prophets that not only glory awaits Her and Her Divine Son, but also grief. Nevertheless, completely obedient to God’s will, She replied: “Behold the Virgin servant of the Lord! Let it be to Me according to your word.”
The Annunciation is celebrated on the 25th of March. Having accepted the glad tidings, the Blessed Virgin said nothing to Joseph, and as St. John Chrysostom explains, She was justly afraid that he may not believe Her and think that through Her warning, She is trying to hide a transgression.
Prayer: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Luke 1: 39
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who [h]believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Commentary on the Visitation
The Holy Virgin hurries to share Her joy with Her relative Elizabeth, who presumably lived in Judea in a town named Juttah, situated close to the sacred city of Hebron. Elizabeth greeted Her with the same extraordinary words that were uttered by the Angel: “Blessed are You among women” — and added: “And blessed is the fruit of your womb!” — Although, as Her relative, she should have known about the promise given by Mary to remain chaste. Following this, Elizabeth exclaimed: “But why is this granted to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth immediately explains the meaning of her words, in that the child she was carrying “leaped in the womb” no sooner than she heard Mary’s greeting. Undoubtedly, under the infusion of the Holy Spirit, the child in Elizabeth’s womb sensed the other Child — He, before Whose arrival into the world, humanity would have to be prepared by him. That’s why he produced such an unusual movement in his mother’s womb. The reaction of the child to the Holy Spirit was imparted to his mother, and she, through the grace of foresight, instantly recognized what joyous tidings Mary conveyed. That’s why she glorified Her as the Mother of God with the same words as that of Archangel Gabriel. Elizabeth beatifies the Blessed Virgin for Her faith with which She received the Archangel’s tidings, contrasting this faith with Zacharias’ disbelief.
Prayer: With the Saints, give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.
*Kontakion of the Departed
Visitation Commentary part 2
From Elizabeth’s words, the Blessed Virgin Mary understood that the mystery revealed to Elizabeth was from God Himself. Amid feelings of rapture and emotions at the thought that the time for the long-awaited Messiah and the liberation of Israel has arrived, the Holy Virgin praised God with a marvelous song. This song is now constantly sung in Her honor during matins: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and My spirit hath rejoiced in God My Saviour . . .” She wards off any thoughts of personal worthiness and praises God because He has been attentive to Her humility. In a prophetic prescience, She foretells that for this mercy from God, She will be glorified by all generations and that this mercy of God will be extended to all that are fearful of the Lord. She subsequently praises God that the promise given to the Fathers and to Abraham has been fulfilled and that the Kingdom of the Messiah, anticipated so much by the Israelites, has come— that His humble followers, despised by the world, will soon triumph, be uplifted and filled with goodness, while the proud and powerful will be disgraced and vanquished. It’s apparent that the Holy Virgin, not having waited for the Forerunner’s birth, returned home.
Prayer: Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Attend to the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto Thee. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Hearken unto me, O Lord.
*Psalm 140 (141)