“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28). With these words, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary.
With these words, we too can greet each other. We are surely highly favored, and we hope and believe the Lord is with us. In this Gospel text of Mary's revelation, we are told how God, through His angel, informs Mary of her calling as mother of Jesus, the Son of God, and how Mary receives it with faith.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. (Luke 1:30-32). Here Mary was informed of a matter which in believing she could not rely on her own experiences, nor the experiences of other believers. Until then, in the whole of creation, it had not happened that a virgin would give birth to a child. The child born would not be just any child, but as the angel told her, the Son of the Most High, the King of the House of Jacob.
This is meant as a lesson for us about what is the right faith that relies only on God's Word, even if it conflicts with human understanding. (Tarmo Toivonen)
Glorify, oh Christ, for us the sacrifice of the cross of Golgatha
A German churchman, Karl Gerok, wrote beautifully in the 19th century on Lent: "Christendom is once again at a sacred fast, whose seven serious weeks are a forerunner making the way for the seven silent days of Holy Week."
Jesus Himself says: ”Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). Hymn 301, the familiar and beloved hymn written by Gustaf Skinnar, tells us about the same thing. In this hymn the poet prays: "Glorify, oh Christ, for us the sacrifice of the cross of Golgatha, from whom we fallen ones shine forth to the heart of God. The eye of faith is always fixed upon the cross."
Gustaf Skinnari (1835 - 1916) was born on Hailuodo Island and was a sailor and salmon dealer. In his profession he experienced storms in the Gulf of Bothnia and beautiful summer days. Returning to the home port was always a reason for praise. He adapted these experiences to spiritual life. In the fifth verse of the hymn, he writes: "So the eye of faith looks beyond the journey's storms. Gazing upon the peaceful shore, longing fills the heart. Soon the journey's end will be reached, then will calm the stormy weather.” (Pekka Riitamo)
Watch and pray that you will not be tempted!
The Apostle Peter writes: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5: 8). During these last times, the enemy of our souls has great anger, knowing that he has little time left. It hates our souls and wants to drown them in eternal torment by putting us to sleep in the sleep of sin.
A tired person does not know the moment when he falls asleep. When driving a car, you can suddenly start up when the tires move off the asphalt. I must confess that I fell asleep. The accident was near. Spiritual sleep is just as insidious. A sleepy person is unaware that he is sleeping.
When going to Gethsemane's great prayer battle, Jesus left his disciples Peter, James, and John a short distance away. Three times he found them sleeping. Jesus awakened them and said, "Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26: 40-41). We are led to look at Jesus' suffering from Gethsemane to Golgotha. There is our best place to stand vigil.