St. Mary of Egypt - 5th Sunday of Lent

Gospel: Mark 10:32-45

Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again." Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask." And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." So Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared." And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

FYI (For further information and resources visit family.goarch.org.)

On this final Sunday before we enter Holy Week, the Church again turns our attention to the theme of repentance by remembering St. Mary of Egypt. She was a harlot who repented of her sins then lived alone in the desert for 47 years, praying and fasting. The Gospel passage shows an interaction Jesus had with His disciples shortly before his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He gives clear instructions on how His disciples are to minister to the flock not as rulers but as servants. This is important to keep in mind in today's society where ambition and status are valued more than helping our neighbor. To be first in the kingdom of heaven, which is better than being first in anything in this life, we must be last and a servant to all.

For Consideration

  • What did James and John ask Jesus? How did Jesus respond? What was the baptism to which Jesus was referring?
  • How did the other disciples respond when they heard what James and John did? How did Jesus respond to them?
  • What does this Gospel passage mean to our lives?

To Do Together

  • St. Mary of Egypt's Story - St. Mary's life is a truly inspiring story of repentance. You can read more about her life on the following Web site: www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/182
  • Take a Hike - Go for a hike in a somewhat remote location. While there, talk about what it would be like to live there for 47 years with none of the luxuries to which we are accustomed. Tell them that this is exactly what Saint Mary of Egypt did to repent of her sins.
  • Confession - As we are quickly approaching Holy Week, now would be a good time to again encourage everyone in your family to go for confession. Take time to help you children understand and prepare for this Sacrament. For understanding, take a long string and have your child hold one end while the other end rests at an icon of Christ. Show them that when we sin we cut our connection to Christ; take a pair of scissors and cut the string. Next, show them that when we confess our sins the connection is restored; tie the two pieces of string back together. Repeat this several times until your children realize that each time you tie the string they move closer to Christ. Discuss how confession not only repairs our broken connection but actually brings us closer to Christ. To prepare, use the prayers in the "Our Faith" section of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Web site (www.goarch.org).

Final Thought

When we show our wounds to the doctor, we mention our pains, our troubling, our illnesses without hiding anything, thus also in confession. We strip our soul, we reveal our wounds, we confess our illness and our personal pain. If this does not occur, we will remain unhealed. Our wounds will grow, the pollution and rotting will advance, the illness will continue undermining our being and sooner or later will lead us to death.

- from Return by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos

A Closing Prayer

Holy mother, Mary, pray for us.

Intercede with the Creator on behalf of those who praise you, holy mother, that we may be delivered from the sufferings and afflictions which overwhelm us on all sides, that being delivered from our temptations, we may unceasingly magnify the Lord Who glorified you.

- From the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

For Further Information

  • The Forgotten Medicine by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev - This book gives practical ideas for approaching confession for teenagers and adults alike. Published by St. Xenia Skete.
  • Nicholas Wins the Prize by Helen Iakovos-Dalalakis - This book is about a young boy's first experience with confession. Published by Light and Life Publishing.
  • Holy Sacraments: Penance - This video presents information on the importance of repentance and how to prepare for confession. It can be viewed on the Web site of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (www.goarch.org/multimedia/video/penance).

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