Sts Joakim and Anna small pictureIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Let us the Righteous Holy Ancestors of God, Saints Joakim and Anna. May the holy Saints Joakim and Anna pray for us.

Righteous Saint Joakim and Saint Anna were childless right into their old age. This saddened them throughout their lives, and were ridiculed by the community.

Their offerings to God at the temple was even rejected by the priest Ruben at one time, considering the offerings from an aged childless couple to be unworthy for God. In humiliation, Saint Joakim retired in solitude to a desolate place. Saint Anna, upon seeing the deep grief of her husband, prayed to God for a child. An angel announced to them that a daughter would be born, who would bless all of mankind. And sure enough, a daughter was born to them at their old age, and they named her Mary. Saint Joakim reposed at 80 years old, while Saint Anna reposed at 70 years old, two years after her husband.

As the Righteous Saints Joakim and Anna showed us, faith in God is often tested by trials and tribulations. God does not punish us, but refine us like the gems and treasures that we are in His Eyes. And in return, He gifts us with the greatest gift of all – a freedom found in salvation (Galatians 4:22-31).

Just as God showed Moses (Exodus 6:2-7), we are given signposts to find in our own spiritual journeys to reconcile with God. God does not leave us alone, nor forsake us. God is always with us, even though we may be too blind to realize.

How then, can we have our sights open to the signposts God leaves for us along our lives? Humility. It is about humility in repentance. it is about humility in prayers, even intercessory prayers for those who wrong us. It is about humility in accepting our burdens, our crosses, and our lots, rather than contest the Will of God which is meant to refine us. And when we truly possess the gift of humility, the entire wonder of God unfolds before us – and it is true liberation and freedom (Psalm 119:45-55).

Encourage one another in faith and perseverance towards God. And even if tongues who profess the Holy Name of Christ are not nested in Orthodoxy, it is for us to encourage, to teach, and most of all, to pray for them (Luke 8:16-21). Likewise, extend our warmth and the Truth of Christ to all those who have ears. It is our Christian duty to reach out, especially in deed and actions, even more than mere words, so much so that others may also see the joy we have found – this priceless gift of God, the freedom and liberation we seek.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Let us close with a thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings
Fr Raphael+

Readings today:
Exodus 6:2-7
Psalm 119:45-55
Luke 8:16-21
Galatians 4:22-31