‘Tidings of joy, again messages of freedom…again a voice of rejoicing, again driving back of slavery… Gabriel was sent to the spiritual palace of the King of the Angels. Gabriel was sent to a virgin, who though betrothed to Joseph, will bear the Son. The bodiless servant was sent to the spotless Virgin. Sin was sent free towards corruption by the inviolate one. The lamp was sent to tell of the Sun of Righteousness. The morning star precedes the light of day. Gabriel was sent to relate of Him Who is in the bosom of the Father, and in the arms of His Mother.’ (Excerpt from St John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Annunciation of the Theotokos)
In the midst of this Lenten period we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. This feast offers us consolation, encouragement and strength, as we are given the example, par-excellence, of dedication, trust and acceptance of God’s will, obedience and sacrificial love. Through Her acceptance of our Lord’s salvific will, through the proclamation of the Archangel Gabriel, the incarnation of God the Word was able to take place, followed by His earthly ministry and teaching, His voluntary sacrifice and glorious Resurrection.
‘Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin and Gabriel proclaims the Grace… Wherefore we also cry out with Him, Hail O’ full of Grace, the Lord is with You’ (Hymn of the Feast)
Let us not forget that we are currently fasting, sacrificing certain comforts, humbling our egos, struggling to refrain from sin and self-centredness, not because we want to somehow afflict ourselves with discomfort. Rather, this fast calls us to prioritise our spiritual lives over our earthly lives, our love for God and our fellow humans over worldly power and selfishness. It calls us to eat and live more simply in order for us to offer our financial, prayerful, practical assistance and care to others. What an opportunity this truly is: a chance for us to step up the ladder of virtue, with the example and the intercessions of the Mother of God, Who, through the Grace of God, led a pure and utterly selfless life of divine love.
As we make our own efforts during this holy period, placing our lives in God’s hands, praying ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ (Lk 1:30) we will likewise hear the words proclaimed to the Theotokos: ‘Do not be afraid…you have found favour with God.’ (Lk 1:30)
Let us then welcome and accept God’s will, putting His love into practice in our daily lives and routines, placing Him at the centre of our hearts and minds, as we journey together towards Pascha.
Wishing you all a blessed, healthy and fruitful Feast of the Annunciation.