by Mariam Ceena Varghese
Gospel Reading for the Third Friday of the Great Lent: St. Luke 18 : 9 -17; St. Matthew 6: 5-15
Gospel Reading for Annunciation: St. Luke 1: 26-38
The Gospel reading on this third Friday of the Great Lent teaches us about humility. Jesus uses the parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector to teach us that "every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14). Of course, Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, emptied himself, and took the form of a servant, is the perfect example. He "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). Therefore, as St. Paul says, "God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow" (2:10).
Humility is what we need to become faithful Christians. If we carefully examine ourselves we may observe that almost always we are trying to justify, defend, exalt or praise ourselves in our interactions with others and sometimes even before God, knowingly or unknowingly. This focus on self - our ego - can often keep us from hearing God's voice and prevent us from being faithful in our walk with God. During this Lenten journey, our struggle should be to push our ego aside and let Christ replace it. For this, much effort is needed, through prayer, fasting, self-examination, repentance and our return to God who has created us to be in union with Him.
Today we also celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation to St. Mary about the birth of Jesus Christ, through whom we are brought back to God, though we are sinners. Thus, we consider it to be the beginning of the fulfillment of the salvation plan of God. Angel Gabriel announced the good news to St. Mary and she willingly humbled herself to the will of God to be an instrument to bring Christ into this world. Her humility blessed her to be the God-bearer. Her womb carried the One whom even the heavens and earth could not contain. Her life, even though it was one of pain and suffering, became a blessing to others, because of her humility. One of the hymns in the Church portrays her as the highest example of humility: "In whom indeed shall I dwell but in the gentle and humble? He looked upon her and dwelt in her who was humble among the children of men; for none was ever so humble as Mary, and it is manifest that none was ever so exalted as she was" (Aarum uyarthappettillithu pol athinaal spashtam Mariyame pol aarum thaazthappettittilla).
We are reminded today to follow the path obediently taken up by the God-bearer. We all are called to be God-bearers. We are called to bring Christ into this world which is so in need of His love, and carry Him with us wherever we go, whether it is in our homes, schools, work or parishes. But it is only if we repent and let go of our ego that we can allow Christ to dwell in us, like in the Virgin. Elder Paisios who is known for his ascetic life and gentle manner, once said, "Ask for repentance in your prayer and nothing else, neither for divine lights, nor miracles, nor prophecies, nor spiritual gifts – nothing but repentance. Repentance will bring you humility, humility will bring you the Grace of God, and God will have in His Grace everything you need for your salvation, or anything you might need to help another soul" (The Epistles of Elder Paisios). If we call upon the Lord, He will answer. "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). May this Lenten journey be one that helps us put our 'self' aside, leaving room for Christ to dwell in us, leading us to a humble life similar to one shown to us by the Mother of God – a life that allows us to bring Christ into today's world.
Lord, grant me the humility to put myself aside and humble myself before you and those around me. Help me put my ego away and submit myself to become a God-bearer. Grant me a humble heart that will allow you to use my life as an instrument to bring Christ into this world. Teach me to submit my life to praise the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Great Lent Resources - Home
Bible Study on Annunciation Reading
by HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius
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