Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. —Matthew 1:18
Today is the first day of the Nativity Fast, a period of preparation for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we see if the scripture verse above, Fr. Stavros begins our reflections on the Nativity with the Virgin Mary. Without a doubt, she is central to the events of God becoming flesh, of the process of salvation beginning.
Fr. Stavros tells us that the Church teaches us that Mary was taken to the Temple and dedicated to God when she was three years old. We will celebrate this event in the Church on December 4th.
He also tells us that the Archangel Gabriel came to her when she was only 14! He came to announce to her what was going to take place and what her role would be. It is amazing to think of such a monumental event happening to her at such a young age. But just as she was through her entire life, Mary became an example for us in her response to her call from God:
Mary answered “Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).”
As Fr. Stavros says, we don't know if she answered with confidence or with fear, but we do know one thing for certain: She did answer the call.
All of us, each and every one of us, are called by God. Certainly we are all called to some station in life. But more importantly, all of us are called to salvation. We are called specifically to PARTICIPATE in our salvation. We are not called to be passive spectators. We participate through the Church (Liturgy, Confession, Communion), through our private lives (scripture, prayer) and through our daily life (alms giving). The call given to the Virgin Mary is a call that echos down through time to all of us.
As we start this Nativity Fast, have you recognized the call of God? Have you answered the call of God. Are you being an active participant in your own salvation, and therefore, by your actions, in the salvation of all of those around you?
I pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving today!