Saturday, December 8, 2012




     The young child of God Mary, was apart from the world and its attractions, instead she enjoyed the companionship of heavenly angels, and advancing in years she remained in the temple of God. Mary had no idea that she would soon become the most known and blessed of the human race, the Queen of heaven and earth, our prize and gift to God. Nor did she know that the Messiah whom she so yearned for would dwell in her womb and that she would become His Mother. She repulsed from herself any inclination of sin, but knew and felt the weakness of human nature, and her sensitivity made her feel this more than many. Because of this, she yearned greatly that the Savior who would come one day, who had been promised by God through many Prophets. There were women in Israel of different ages, who nourished the desire that the Messiah who was to come, would be born of one of them. However, David the Prophet King foresaw his daughter Mary’s day when he prophesied: "At your right hand stood the Queen, arrayed and adorned in clothing of solid gold.
Hearken daughter, consider and incline your ear, forget your people and your father’s house; for the King has desired your beauty, for He is your Lord" (Psalm 44:9-11). Isaiah also said of her: "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive in her womb . . ."

     Considering the presence of Mary in the temple, many Saints have recorded many beautiful things concerning her, which was inspired in them through their humility and prayerful lives. Among them is Saint Romanos Melodos saying: " Mary did not leave the temple of the saints. Now at the proper time, Mary having become radiant and Zacharias saw that she was passing girlhood, being then approximately thirteen years of age." Mary had bound herself to remain an undefiled virgin all through her life, serving God and praying for unfortunate people, increasing her chosen ascetical life. But the Virgin would have to leave the temple soon, due to its regulations, for she was blossoming into a young woman, and could not remain there. Usually when virgins left the temple, they would marry, serve their husband and bear children. Now because Mary had chosen perpetual virginity, the priests began to plan for her, because virgins could not live alone among the populace without a guardian, and this was necessary, so arrangements were made to select someone to protect the Virgin.

     Meanwhile, an angel of the Lord who had appeared to Zacharias, telling him to call together all the widowers of Judea, and have each one bring his rod. Remembering the rod of Aaron which blossomed forth, they had all the widowers bring forth their rods. The rods were brought into the Holy of Holies. The following day the men would have their rods returned to them. Whoever belonged to the rod which would blossom forth would be the Virgins protector, and to him she would be betrothed . But why the betrothal, which is a step toward marriage? That the devil might overlook her as being the virgin mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy: "Behold the virgin shall conceive . . ."

     It was determined by the priests through a lot, that the protector of the Virgin would come from the tribe of Judah. Joseph of Nazareth had been among those whose rods were taken into the Holy of Holies. When the rods were taken from there and returned to their owners, it was Joseph’s walking stick budded forth, indicating that he would be the man who would become protector of the Virgin, who was then betrothed to him Joseph took her to his home and went back to his work of building which was his occupation. Their betrothal would be legally similar to marriage, and violating it would be adultery, while separation required a divorce. But there was no consummation of the betrothal, for the role of Joseph was the guardian of her virginity.


     The Virgin dedicated her time to prayer, fasting and contemplation, rejoicing for she worshiped and knew the true God of Israel, the God who spoke through the Prophets, and who gave the ten commandments to Moses for all of Israel, God’s chosen people. She rejoiced when she heard the heartening news that her cousin Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias was with child in her advanced age, being a gift from heaven, for an angel declared this child from God to Zacharias in the temple.

Scripture narrates:
"And in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came unto her, and said: Rejoice, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! When she saw him she was troubled at what he said, and cast in her mind what manner of greeting this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not Mary, for you have found grace with God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
"Then Mary said to the angel, How shall this be when I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you; therefore that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And behold, your cousin Elizabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her."

     This is a time for great joy, for the Lord God himself, whom the whole world cannot contain, places himself in the womb of the pure Virgin, and this is so filled with meaning for us sinners. On this day the Church joyfully sings this troparion: 

"Today is the crown of our salvation, and the mystery from before the ages is revealed. The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin; and Gabriel announces the grace. Together with him, let us cry to the Theotokos, Rejoice Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.

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