November 21, 2019
Luke 10:38-42 - Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." (RSV)
Are you sitting at the Lord's feet? - Mary came and sat at his feet. This was as through she were sitting on firm ground at the feet of him who had forgiven the sinful woman her sins (Luke 7:38). She had put on a crown in order to enter into the kingdom of the Firstborn. She had chosen the better portion, the Benefactor, the Messiah himself. This will never be taken away from her. Martha’s love was more fervent than Mary’s, for before He had arrived there, she was ready to serve him. “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” When He came to raise Lazarus to life, she ran and came out first. (St. Ephreim the Syrian)
Why does the Church place this Gospel reading about Martha and Mary (a different Mary than Mary, the Mother of God) before us on the Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple? Because it’s all about discipleship. Mary, the Mother of God, is the first and foremost disciple of Christ.
- Vespers: Exodus 40:1-5,9,10,16,34,35, 1 Kings 7:51;8:1,3-7,9-11, Ezekiel 43:27-44:4
- Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56
- Divine Liturgy: Hebrews 9:1-7, Luke 10:38-42; 11:27,28
The Icon is of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. According to tradition, Saints Joachim and Anna were childless, and vowed to the Lord that if a child were born to them they would dedicate the child to His service. Their prayers were answered and Mary was born. When the Holy Virgin reached the age of three her parents fulfilled their vow and brought Mary to the Temple. It was feared that Mary would not have the strength to climb the fifteen steps to the sanctuary (where only the high priests could enter) but when she was put on the first step the Lord gave her strength and she was able to quickly climb all fifteen steps. The High Priest, at the leading of the Holy Spirit, led her into the Holy of Holies, where only he entered once a year to make a sacrificial blood offering. Mary’s relatives and friends – and all those in the Temple – were astonished. Read a commentary by Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica on this feast of the Mother of God.
On November 14th, at the conclusion of the Feast of the Holy Apostle Philip the Church began "Philip's Fast" (also known as "Nativity Fast" and "Advent"). Praying through 40 days!