My beloved brothers and sisters in Chris God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON THE ANNUNCIATION
OF OUR EXCEEDINGLY PURE LADY,
MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY
"And Mary said:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in
God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly
state of His maidservant;
For behold, HENCEFORTH ALL
GENERATIONS WILL CALL ME
BLESSED.." (St. Luke 1:46-48).
"…Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee
named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
house of David. The VIRGIN’S NAME WAS MARY. And having come in, the angel
said her, "REJOICE, HIGHLY FAVORED ONE, THE LORD IS WITH YOU: BLESSED
ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!" (St. Luke 1:26-28).
Saint Theophylact states, "The ‘SIXTH MONTH’ after St.John the Forerunner’s conception. "The Lord is with thee," said the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, was a Divine salutation, since God was mentioned together with the greeting. First, the Archangel calms the fear in her heart, so that she might hear the Divine decision when she was peaceful and untroubled. While she was troubled, she would not be able to hear and understand clearly the things that would take place. The Archangel said to her, "IN THY WOMB," to show that the Lord actually TOOK FLESH FROM THE VERY WOMB OF THE VIRGIN. It was right that He Who came FOR THE SALVATION OF OUR RACE was called JESUS. The name written in the Greek language, IESOUS, means SALVATION FROM GOD. Therefore, Jesus, being interpreted, IS SAVIOR, for the word "IESOUS" means salvation.
God, she says, has looked down upon me who am lowly; it is not I who looked up to Him. It is God Who had mercy on me, not I who sought Him out. And from henceforth, not only Elizabeth, but "ALL GENERATIONS" of believers, "SHALL BLESS ME." Wy shall they bless me? Because of my virtue? No, but rather because GOD "HATH DONE TO ME GREAT THINGS..". She calls God ‘MIGHTY,’ so that no one would disbelieve these words, thinking that God had not the power to do those things. She says that His Name is ‘HOLY’, showing that He Who is Most Pure was not stained in any way by having been conceived in the womb of a woman, but He REMAINS Holy. His mercy is not only upon me, but UPON ALL THOSE WHO FEAR Him. But those UNWORTHY ONES who do NOT fear Him DO NOT BENEFIT FROM His mercy.
The Feast-Day that we celebrate on March 25th clearly proves that this mystery is beyond the understanding, not only of men, but of angels and even Archangels, says Saint Gregory Palamas. The Archangel Gabriel the Good Tidings ("The Good News") to the Virgin that she would CONCEIVE (Luke 1:26-38). But when she sought to find out the way it would happen and asked him, "HOW SHALL THIS BE, SEEING I KNOW NOT A MAN?" (v.34), the Archangel was completely unable to explain how. He took refuge in God, saying, "THE HOLY SPIRIT SHALL COME UPON THEE, AND THE POWER OF THE HIGHEST SHALL OVERSHADOW THEE" (v.35). Why was this? Because the Child to be born was NOT to be called prophet or simply a man, like Adam, but the Son of the Highest, SAVIOR, DELIVERER OF THE HUMAN RACE AND ETERNAL KING.
However, God, Who made us, looked LOVINGLY DOWN ON US IN His mercy. He bowed the heavens and CAME DOWN. Having TAKEN OUR HUMAN NATURE UPON Him from the Holy Virgin, He RENEWED AND RESTORED IT; Or rather, He LED IT UP TO DIVINE AND HEAVENLY HEIGHTS. Wishing to achieve this, TO BRING FULFILMENT ON THIS DAY, His PRE-ETERNAL CONSEL, HE SENT THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL, as Saint Luke the Evangelist tells us, "TO NAZARETH, TO A VIRGIN ESPOUSED TO A MAN WHOSE NAME WAS JOSEPH, of the house of David, and THE VIRGIN’S NAME WAS MARY" (St. Luke 1:26-27).
"God," writes Saint Gregory Palamas, "sent the Archangel Gabriel to a virgin and MADE HER CONTINUE A VIRGIN ("EVER-VIRGIN"), His Mother by means of a salutation alone. If He had been conceived from seed, He would not have been A NEW MAN, NOR SINLESS, NOR THE SAVIOR OF SINNERS. The flesh’s impulse to reproduce is not subject to our minds, which God has appointed to govern us, and is entirely without sin. That is why David said, "I WAS SHAPED IN INIQUITY, AND IN SIN DID MY MOTHER CONCEIVED ME" (Psalm 50:5). So if the CONCEPTION OF GOD HAD BEEN FROM SIN, HE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A NEW MAN, NOR THE AUTHOR OF NEW LIFE WHICH WILL NEVER GROW OLD. If He were from the old stock and INHERITED ITS SIN, HE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HEAR WITHIN HIMSELF THE FULLNESS OF THE INCORRUPTIBLE Godhead or to make His flesh an inexhaustible source OF SANCTIFICATION, ABLE TO WASH AWAY EVEN THE DEFILEMENT OF OUR First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify ALL WHO CAME AFTER THEM. That is why neither an Angel nor a man came to save us, BUT THE LORD HIMSELF, WHO WAS CONCEIVED AND TOOK FLESH IN THE WOMB OF A VIRGIN, WHILE REMAINING UNCHANGED AS God."
"And the virgin’s name," it says, "was Mary" (v.27), which means ‘LADY.’ This shows the Virgin’s DIGNITY, how certain was her VIRGINITY AND SET APART WAS HER LIFE, EXACT IN EVERY RESPECT AND COMPLETELY BLAMELESS. She properly bore the name Virgin and possessed to the FULL ATTRIBUTES OF PURITY. SHE WAS A VIRGIN IN BOTH BODY AND SOUL AND KEPT ALL HER POWERS OF HER SOUL AND HER BODILY SENSES FAR ABOVE ANY DEFILEMENT… The Holy Scripture says of her, "THIS IS THE SEALED BOOK" (cf. Revelation 5:1-6:1); Daniel 12:4) and "THIS GATE SHALL BE SHUT, AND NO MAN SHALL ENTER IN BY IT" (Ezekiel 44:2). (Source: Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George