Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation: "Today is revealed the mystery..."

Dear Parish Faithful,

Every year during Great Lent we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation to the Most-Holy Theotokos (March 25). This beautiful "festal interlude" allows us to again marvel before the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. For at His conception "without seed" the "Word became flesh." He will be born in nine months time, but the actual incarnation is marked when He entered the womb of the Virgin Mary when she was "overshadowed" by the Holy Spirit. Since her Son is the pre-eternal Son, Word and Wisdom of God, she becomes the Theotokos (literally, the "God-bearer"). In an extraordinarily fine passage, St. Nicholas Cabasilas (14th c.) explains the role, not only of the Holy Trinity in this great mystery, but also that of the Theotokos, thus revealing to us the meaning of synergy, or of co-operating with God:

"The incarnation of the Word was not only the work of Father, Son and Spirit - the first consenting, the second descending, the third overshadowing - but it was also the work of the will and the faith of the Virgin. Without the three divine persons this design could not have been set in motion; but likewise the plan could not have been carried into effect without the consent and faith of the all-pure Virgin. Only after teaching and persuading her does God make her his Mother and receive from her the flesh which she consciously wills to offer him. Just as he was conceived by his own free choice, so in the same way she became his Mother voluntarily and with her free consent."

Feast Days are not just theological ideas. They are days of worship, because it is in worship that we actualize and participate in the reality being commemorated: "Today is revealed the mystery that is from all eternity ..." We celebrate the Feasts Days of the Church liturgically, so that we can gather as the Body of Christ and rejoice together over the saving events that manifest God's mercy and grace to the world. I hope to see many of you make the effort of coming to church in order to praise God for the awesome mystery of the Incarnation.

Fr. Steven

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