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May 3, 2015

Saints Timothy and Mavra as Models for our Lives

St. Timothy and Mavra (Feast Day - May 3)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

In the Service of the Mystery of Marriage, we chant among other things the following hymn: "Holy Martyrs, who strove well and were crowned...". This is because it fits with the martyric character of Marriage, which is a Mystery of love. Love by nature is martyric, a cross.

Two strangers from two different worlds with two different characters, each with their own mentality, flaws and weaknesses, are called to live their entire lives near each other, to endure one another and tolerate one another. Indeed this requires a huge stock of endless love.

The Saints we are talking about today experienced the joy of this love, and the mystery and martyrdom of the cross. Saint Timothy was a Reader "who read the sacred words in the churches." He knew very well the value of these sacred books, which is why he refused to give them over to Arianos, the pagan ruler. When Arianos asked for them, with the purpose of destroying them, Timothy gave him the following amazing answer: "I consider the books of the Christians as my children, I rely on them and through them I shall be kept by the angels, because the strength of the divine meanings that are within these books, invite the holy angels to help me. Therefore, because no father kills his own children willingly, so also will I not give over the sacred books to be burned." After this courageous confession, he received into his ears a fiery iron rod which caused his eyes to pop out. Then they brought forward his wife Mavra (they were married only twenty days prior), in order to persuade him to deny Christ, but the exact opposite happened. Timothy persuaded her to accept and then confess her faith in Christ, which resulted in her torture. Because she wondrously remained unscathed after her tortures, eventually they were both crucified, and thus they had the great honor of having the same end as He whom they loved so much throughout their lives. Though they hung on the cross for ten days, they received rabid attacks from the devil, who thought he could lure them with deceptive promises and earthly pleasures. Eventually the Saints conquered, despite these temptations being painful. However, they fought with great bravery and supported one another.

Love which goes beyond selfishness, lasts until the grave, and even beyond it. Nowadays, when there is so much talk about passion and love, people have become more alienated and divorces are multiplying, often over small matters, indicating that their love is not true. This is because today love is mixed with selfishness and other passions, and it is totally alien to the spirit of the cross, which is about sacrifice, service and offering. One who bears true love sacrifices themselves so that others may live, while false love sacrifices others that we may live.

The authentication of love is the stigmata of the Cross. The disciples of Christ recognized their Teacher, after His Resurrection, by the signs of the Cross, which are His power and glory. They were, as we chant during Holy Week, "fully wounded and all-powerful." The same takes place with His true disciples, who crucify their wills daily in obedience to Him. They know how to overcome the difficulties and temptations, since they have overcome the limits of their personal life and death. After all, life springs out of the Cross and the empty Tomb, and "through the Cross joy has come to all the world."

Timothy and Mavra were crucified, but they also resurrected. They lived united by the bonds of genuine love, and departed this world together and in love, and they continue to live and have a foretaste of the kingdom of God until the common resurrection. Simultaneously they are spiritual beacons and signposts of our own crucifixion/resurrection course of life.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΣΥΖΥΓΙΑ ΑΡΙΣΤΗ ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΥΡΑ", May 1997. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.