When people had reached such a degree of moral decay, it was then that our Most Holy Theotokos was born. It was often said that God must come into the world to bring faith and not allow the ruin of mankind.
For our salvation, our Lord chose to become man, and chose as His Mother the All-Pure Virgin Mary, who alone was worthy to give birth to Him, the Source of purity and holiness.
It was in Nazareth, a small city of Galilee, that the Most Holy Virgin Mary was born. The Righteous Joachim of the tribe of the Prophet-King David, and Anna from the tribe of the First Priest Aaron were her parents. They were without child, since St Anna was barren.
Even though they had reached old age, Joachim and Anna never lost hope in the Lord’s mercy. They knew that with God everything is possible, and that He would bless Anna, even in her old age to overcome her barreness, just as He had once overcame the barrenness of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Saint Joachim and Saint Anna made a vow to dedicate their child to the Lord, and to His service in the Temple.
It was believed by the Isrealites, to be a punishment from God, because of sin to be childless. And the righteous St. Joachim and St. Anna endured ridicule and abuse from their own people. During one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem Saint Joachim brought a sacrifice to offer to the Lord, but it was not accepted by the High Priest since he considered him unworthy since he was childless.
In grief Saint Joachim left for the wilderness to stay there and pray to the Lord for a child. Saint Anna stayed at home and wept bitterly when she found out what happened at theTemple in Jerusalem. She never once complained to the Lord, but instead Saint Anna prayed to God for His mercy.
Their prayers were eventually answered by the Lord when this pious couple were in old age and had prepared themselves by a holy life for a sublime calling: to become the parents of the Most Holy Theotokos, who was to be the future Mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Lord sent to them the Archangel Gabriel to bring the most joyous message that their prayers had been heard by God. To them would be born a most blessed daughter Mary. And through their holy daughter Salvation would come to the whole World.
The Theotokos was more pure and virtuous than all of mankind, and even the angels. She was the living Temple of God, as our holy Church chants in the festal hymn: “the East Gate… bringing Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls” (2nd Stikhera on “Lord, I Have Cried”, Tone 6).
Our holy Church teaches us that the Most Holy Theotokos’s father Joachim was from the lineage of King David, and Anna was from the lineage of Aaron. Our Panagia was of royal birth by her father, and of priestly birth by her mother. She foreshadowed Him Who would be born of her as King and High Priest. The Almighty and All-seeing God rewarded Panagia’s parents with a joy that surpassed all their expectations and all their most beautiful dreams. Because He blessed them with not just a daughter, but the Mother of God. He blessed them not only with temporal joy, but with eternal joy as well. Mary, Full of grace, Blessed among women, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Altar of the Living God, the Table of the Heavenly Bread, the Ark of God’s Holiness, the Tree of the Sweetest Fruit, the Glory of the race of man, the Praise of womanhood, the Fount of virginity and purity-this was the child that was granted to them by God. When the Most Holy Theotokos turned three years of age, her holy parents brought her to the Temple in Jerusalem. Then when she reached the age of 15 or 16, returned again to Nazareth, and a short time after heard the Annunciation of the Holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of our Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world.
St. Dionysius the Areopagite writes of the immeasurable joy, the outer and inner radiance, and the indescribable fragrance that he sensed in the presence of the Holy Theotokos when he visited her in Jerusalem. In his zeal, he says that if he had not known the One True God, he would have recognized her, the Holy Virgin Mary, as God. The Holy Virgin made such a powerful and unique impression on men during her earthly life-and she received an incomparably greater power and glory after her physical death when, by the will of God, she was exalted above the heavenly hosts. Her power comes from her ceaseless prayer for the faithful, for all those who turn to her for help. When St. John of Novgorod and his people prayed to her for help against a hostile army, he understood that she was simultaneously praying to the Lord with tears in their behalf, and Novgorod was miraculously saved. As she was compassionate toward her crucified Son, so the Holy Most-pure One is also compassionate toward all those in need, and who turn to her for help. It could be said that the entire earth is covered by the miracles of her mercy. Even today, there lives in Belgrade a café owner (C. J.), who was born in the village of Labuni te (Macedonia) outside Struga. His mother brought him blind to the Monastery of Kali to, where, after the priest prayed over him before the icon of the Holy Theotokos, he received his sight. The first monk at Pochaev saw a fiery pillar extending from earth to heaven, and in that flaming pillar he saw the Holy Theotokos. She was standing on a rock. On the spot where she stood, a spring of healing water sprang forth: even today, it heals many of the sick.”
Apolytikion – 4th Tone
Thy Nativity, O Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to the whole world; for from thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the curse and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life everlasting.
Kontakion – 4th Tone
Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death, O immaculate one, by thy holy Nativity, which thy people, redeemed from the guilt of offences, celebrate by crying to thee: The barren woman giveth birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.