My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE THEOTOKOKS (Part II)
"And the virgin’s name", it says, "was Mary" (Luke 1:27), 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 of Virgin and possessed to the full all the attributes of purity. She WAS A VIRGIN IN BOTH BODY AND SOUL AND KEPT ALL THE POWERS OF HER SOUL AND HER BODILY SENSES FAR ABOVE ANY DEFILEMENT. This she did authoritatively, steadfastly, decisively and altogether inviolably at all times, as a close gate preserves the treasures within, and a sealed book keeps hidden from sight what is written inside. The Scripture says of her, "This is the sealed book" (cf Revelation 5:1-6:1; Dan. 12:4) and "THIS GATE SHALL BE SHUT, AND NO MAN SHALL ENTER IN BY IT" (Ezekiel 44:2).
The Virgin is also duly called "Lady" in another sense, as she has the mastery of all things, having DIVINELY CONCEIVED AND BORN IN VIRGINITY THE Master of All by His nature. Yet she is the Lady not just because she is free from servitude and a partaker of divine power, but because she is the Fount and Root of the freedom of the human race, especially after the ineffable and joyful birth. A married woman is ruled over rather than being a lady, especially after sorrowful and painful childbirth, in accordance with that curse on Eve: "In sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). Freeing the human race, the Virgin Mother received through the Angel joy and blessing INSTEAD OF THIS CURSE. "And the Angel came in to her", it says, "and said, Rejoice, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). The Archangel was not foretelling the future by saying, "The Lord is with thee", but was DECLARING WHAT HE SAW HAPPENING INVISIBLY AT THAT TIME. Perceiving that Divine and human gifts of grace were to be found in her, and that she was adorned with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he truly PROCLAIMED HER FULL OF GRACE. He SAW IN ADVANCE THE PAINLESS PREGNANCY AND THE BIRTH WITHOUT LABOUR, AND ANNOUNCED TO HER THAT SHE SHOULD REJOICE, AND AFFIRMED THAT SHE ALONE WAS RIGHTLY BLESSED AND GLORIFIED AMONG WOMEN. Even if other women may be extolled, no other can be magnified with the surpassing glory of the Virgin Mother of God.
When the Virgin saw the Archangel she was afraid lest he be a deceitful messenger beguiling unwary women like Eve, and she did not accept his greeting unquestioningly. As she did not yet clearly perceive the bond with God which the Archangel was announcing to her, "SHE WAS TROUBLED", it says, "at his saying". She was utterly determined to hold fast to her virginity. "and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be" (Luke 1:29). So the Archangel dispelled the godly fear of the Virgin full of grace by telling her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God" (Luke 1:30). What favour? ‘THAT GRACE WHICH IS ONLY POSSIBLE FOR HIM WHO CAN DO THE IMPOSSIBLE, AND WHICH HAS BEEN KEPT FOR YOU ALONE FROM BEFORE THE AGES." "BEHOLD, THOU SHALT CONCEIVE IN THY WOMB" (Luke 1:31). "When you hear about conception" he told her, "DO NOT SUPPOSE THAT THERE WILL BE ANY DEVIATION FROM VIRGINITY. You must not be anxious or troubled on that account." For these words "Behold thou shalt conceive", spoken to her who is a virgin, show THAT THE CONCEPTION IS TO ACCOMPANY VIRGINITY.
"Behold, thou shalt conceive", he said, "and bring forth a son" (Luke 1:31). Continuing as you are now with your virginity inviolate, you shall conceive a child and bear the Son of the Most High. Isaiah foresaw this many years before and prophesied, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Isaiah 7:14), and, "I went unto the prophetess" (Isaiah 8:3). In what way did the Prophet go to the Prophetess? In the same way as the Archangel now came to her. What the Archangel now saw, the Prophet FORESAW and FORETOLD. That the Virgin was a Prophetess with the gift of prophecy, is proved to all by her hymn to God in the Gospel (Luke 1:46-55). [Source: Saint Gregory Palamas]
(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