My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ 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 (March 25th).
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
TODAY is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of
the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the
Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel announceth the good tidings of grace; for this
cause, let us cry to the Mother of God with him: Rejoice, thou who art
full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
WHEN the bodies one learned the secret command, in haste he
came and stood before Joseph’s dwelling, and spake unto the
Maiden who knew not wedlock: The One Who hath bowed the
Heavens by His descent is held and contained unchanging wholly
in thee. Seeing Him receiving the form of a servant in thy womb,
I stand in awe and cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded.
Another Kontakion Hymn
TO thee, the Champion Leader, we thy flock dedicate a feast of victory
and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos;
but as thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that
can be, do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride
When the Prophet and Psalmist was enumerating the different aspects of creation and observing God’s wisdom in them all, he was filled with amazement and cried out while writing, "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all" (Psalm 104:24)…
"The event which we celebrate on this Holy Day clearly proves that this mystery is beyond the understanding not only of men but of Angels and even Archangels. The Archangel brought the Good Tidings (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?" (Luke 1:34). 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 Most High shall overshadow thee" (Luke 1:35). It was as if someone had asked Moses, "How was man formed out of the ground? How were bones, nerves, and flesh made out of dust, or the senses out of what is insensate? Or how was another human being created from Adam’s rib? How was the bone stretched out, divided up, joined, and fastened together? How were the internal organs, the various juices, and everything else formed from a bone? If someone had asked these questions of Moses all he would have said was that it was God Who took dust from the ground and formed Adam, and took of Adam’s ribs and made Eve. He would have said who the Creator was, but not the way in which these things were done. In the same way, Gabriel said that the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High would bring about the birth without seed, but he did not say how. He went on to mention that Elizabeth, who was barren, had conceived in her old age, and all he could say was that with God nothing was impossible (Luke 1:35-37). So how could he explain how she was to conceive and bear a child in virginity?
Nevertheless, the Archangel’s words to the Virgin did contain something more, a reference to a great mystery. "The Holy Spirit", he said, "shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee"27) (Luke 1:35). Why was this? Because the Child to be born was not to be called a Prophet or simply a man, like Adam, but the Son of the Most High, Savior, Deliverer of the human race and Eternal King. When stones fall away from the peak of a mountain and go right down to the foot, many overhanging crags are left in their place. In the same way, when in Paradise we fell away from the Divine Commandment and the blessed and godly way of life and were brought down as far as Hades, many resulted. Not only did the ground yield visible thorns and thistles in accordance with the curse upon our forefathers, but we, to an even greater extent, were sown with the thorns of all sorts of evil passions and with sin’s dreadful thistles. Our race did not receive just that sorrow allotted to our First Mother by the curse which condemned her to bear children in sorrow (Genesis 3:16), but almost all our life became pain and sorrow.
However, God WHO MADE US LOOKED LOVINGLY DOWN ON US IN HIS MERCY. HE BOWED THE HEAVENS AND CAME DOWN. HAVING TAKEN OUR 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 to FULFILLMENT ON THIS DAY HIS PRE-ETERNAL COUNSEL, HE SENT THIE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL, AS 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" (Luke 1:26-27).
God sent the Archangel TO A VIRGIN and made her, who continued a 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, WHICH GOD HAS APPOINTED TO GOVERN US, AND IS NOT ENTIRELY WITHOUT SIN. That is why David said, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5). So IF THE CONCEPTION OF GOD HAD BEEN FROM SEED, 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 WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BEAR 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 TO SAVE US, BUT THE LORD HIMSELF, WHO AS CONCEIVED AND TOOK FLESH IN THE WOMB OF A VIRGIN, WHILE REMAINING UNCHANGED AS GOD.
It was NECESSARY FOR THE VIRGIN TO HAVE A WITNESS TO THE CONCEPTION WITHOUT SEED, AND A HELPER IN THOSE EVENTS WHICH WERE TO BE ACCOMPLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIVINE DISPENSATION. What were these? The journey to Bethlehem, where the birth took place (Luke 2:1-7), proclaimed and glorified the heavenly Angels (Luke 2:8-14). The Entry into the Temple, where Simeon and Anna bore witness that the Infant was the Lord of Life and death (Luke 2:22-38). The flight into Egypt to escape Herod, and the return from Egypt in accordance with the holy prophesies (Matthew 2:13-22; Hos. 11:1; of Exodus 4:29), and all the other events which we cannot now relate. Joseph was taken as her betrothed. and the Angel was sent "TO A VIRGIN ESPOUSED TO A MAN WHOSE NAME WAS JOSEPH" (Luke 1:26-27). You should understand the reference to being "OF THE HOUSE AND LINEAGE OF DAVID" as applying to them both (Luke 2:4; cf 1:27). For both the Virgin and Joseph traced their families back to David. (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