Gospel Message & Recording
Today in the Gospel Reading we hear of the Angel Gabriel appearing to St. Mary and announcing to her that she will conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit the Son of God who will redeem the world and bring salvation to many. The Orthodox Christian is typically literate about the plot of this narrative. As such, ideas arise that question St. Mary’s uniqueness and specialty in the work of salvation by God. Often that sounds something like this: Mary is not special because God could have used anyone. This argument trivializes the fact that St. Mary, with humility and strong faith, responded to the angel with an acceptance of what God wanted to do with her life. Yes, we as Orthodox Christian believe that she could have said “no,” but she didn’t; and that is exactly the point. She accepted the “calling” and became the “chosen.” So logically the question arises: what if she didn’t accept. The answer is clear! God would have used someone else. This is not in any way an attempt to minimize the importance of St. Mary. On the contrary, this viewpoint exalts St. Mary, because it was her holiness, humility, and faith that allowed her to say, “yes” to God.
Like St. Mary, would we respond to the call of God? Maybe we don’t have an angel appearing and speaking to us directly, but God leads us to certain “crossroads” in life where we have to make decisions. Those decisions define us and make us who we are. St. Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan in her life was her crossroads. This could have gone differently; but she, being filled with the Holy Spirit, saw her own destiny and knew that if she didn’t capture the moment, her life would be just ordinary. She wouldn’t have made a great impact on the Kingdom of God. Such a moment, and our response to them is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.
Recapitulating my own life, I see how God called me at a certain crossroad. The most memorable one is going to seminary. Looking at my resume up until then, it was in no way suited for a future seminarian, let alone a deacon or priest. In the process of thinking about attending seminary, many people were discouraging, or indifferent. In other ways, I thought about my own sins and how I would never be qualified to preach or teach the Bible. With this going on, I had to make a decision. Either I was going to accept the call of God or walk away. If I had walked away, God would have used someone else. That someone else would have preached, taught, and become a deacon and Priest. The point is this: if God is calling you to something, take hold of it and say “yes.” Otherwise, the Holy Spirit will pass you by and find someone else.
The perfect example of this is our Church in India. We have been there for 2,000 plus years, but have made a minimal impact for Christ. We harbor negative feelings against Pentecostals and other denominations. But when we apply the principle that I explained above, we realize that since we sat on our ego, fought with each other in court, enjoyed our Brahmin status, God the Holy Spirit moved on and passed us by. (I speak specifically in regard to evangelization.) Now other denominations are leading the way and we find ourselves the same as yesterday.
Think for a moment about our mission parish. How we came to a crossroad and had to make a decision to start the mission or continue as usual. The moment came for us to respond and we said “yes.” That impact has been immense, for the member families, Diocese, and surrounding community. Just imagine if we had said “no.” The Holy Spirit might have passed us by and used another parish to fulfill His divine plan.
Have you ever experienced a crossroad in your life? If so, how did you respond? Of course, there might have been some crossroads that we said no to God. But we are not here to just dwell on the past but to look optimistically at the future. Your next crossroad is coming. How will you respond?
Have you ever experienced a crossroad in your life? If so, how did you respond?
If you are a member of St. Luke, do you feel your response in join the mission has changed your life and your family’s life in a positive way? How would things have been different if you had responded no to joining St. Luke?
What are other examples in the Bible of men and women responding to the call of God?
- Compare King Saul and King David. How were their responses different? What caused God to reject Saul? What caused God to exalt David?