M a r c h 2 0 1 9
of the Mother of God
The Annunciation “is the beginning of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery from eternity: the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the good tidings of grace” (from the Troparion of the Feast). Joyful news is proclaimed. It is the greatest news, the fulfilment of the ancient Protevangelium spoken to Eve (Gen. 3, 15) and a turning point in the history of humanity: “the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin”; God becomes man but remains God and Mary becomes a mother and remains Virgin.
The Virgin becomes a ladder for the incarnation of God and the divinisation of man. With the Annunciation, the beginning of salvation of the world is come. The eternal Son of God becomes man and He will leave ‘nothing undone’ to finish that work of our salvation. The angel Gabriel calls Mary full of Grace and blessed because God is with her. The Annunciation is the culmination of a life of holiness. In the Temple’s holy of holies, living with prayer and devoting her whole being to God, the Virgin Mary was already full of the deifying Grace of God and angels visited here there. She was not disturbed by the visitation of the angel Gabriel but she was wondered at his words and their meaning. So, the Archangel made known the will of God to the Virgin but her free will acceptance is awaited. The astonishing mystery of God’s divine plan and its dependence on his creature’s acquiescence is revealed by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow in a sermon he preached on the day of the Annunciation.
The holy Bishop said that as God pronounced at the creation of the world “let there be…” and at the living word of the Creator, full of power, creatures were brought forth into the world, at the Annunciation a day without equal in the existence of the world, when the divine Mary pronounced her ‘let it be’, the word of the creature made the Creator descend into the world. The word of God “you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son” was not immediately fulfilled but was held in the balance by the word of Mary “How can this be?” Her humble “let it be to me” was necessary for the great word of God to take effect. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word”.
Mary spoke these words on behalf of the whole human race. She said yes to God and ‘allowed’ His divine person to assume true human nature created in the image of God’s own freedom. In declaring this acceptance St Gregory Palamas says the Virgin became “the fount and root of the freedom of the human race”. God makes his will known and the Virgin responds in obedience and humility in contrast with the disobedience of Eve. St Irenaeus writes: “As Eve by the speech of an angel was seduced, so as to flee God, transgressing his word, so also Mary received the good tidings by means of the angel’s speech, so as to bear God within her, being obedient to his word.”
The holy Virgin, the ‘morning star that heralds the sunrise’ and ‘the dawn of the mystic day’ (Akathist Hymn) in an unparalleled mystery brought forth God to be made known to us. He is with us always (Matt. 28, 20) and the devotion of our life to His will, heralds the sunrise of His graceful Presence in our heart. The freedom of our will is key: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Joh. 14, 23). The beginning of our salvation is finished on the Cross and if we say yes, it is ours. Glory be to God.
BULLETIN OF SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION ARCHDIOCESE THYATEIRA & GB, Bulletin No 1537