How the news of the Annunciation keeps changing our lives

Annunciation of the Theotokos - a quiet mystery and a sea change

annunciation of Theotokos

We live in the age of information. We have immersed ourselves in the deep sea of news, facts and events. They touch our hearts or give us cause for anxiety. Some are confusing, others surprise us, give us joy or change the course of our lives.

The news about our Saviour becoming flesh brought by the Archangel Gabriel stands out from all these tidings, and nothing in the world can compare with it. With pure love and infinite obedience, the Most Holy Theotokos brought into the world the Lord Incarnate, the Saviour of humanity. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1, 14). The Prophet David thus foretold this momentous event: "May He be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth" (Psalms 72: 6). It was quiet and went largely unnoticed.

The world did not pay heed. Its people continued to buy and sell, fall and love and marry, rejoice and mourn, despite the change of a cosmic proportion that was unfolding. But the Lord took the world back into His hands. He did not simply enter the womb of the Virgin Mary. Through the Archangel, He asked her, humbly and meekly, if she consented. Only after hearing her yes and her reply "May your word to me be fulfilled", did the word become flesh. The Annunciation is evidence of God's ultimate respect for the freedom of His creation.

The future of the whole of humanity depended on Mary's answer. Likewise, the future of every single human being depends on whether he will choose to accept the good news of Mary's Annunciation or to brush it away and ignore it. He will have it revealed to him through joy or sorrow, or a miracle, or the pure hearts of his family or friends. How will he respond? Will he say, "May your word to me be fulfilled?" Or will he reply in passing, "Please excuse me", and continue about the fields, the cattle, or other worldly errands or plans to which they must attend" (Luke 14, 18)?

The Venerable Joseph Hesychast once stood on a hill on Mount Athos watching a boat sailing by on a sunny day. He said to his companion, "Look! It's sunshine, and the boat is sailing along nicely in the tail-wind. The sailor is rejoicing, his boat is making progress without his effort. But when a storm breaks out, or an adverse wind blows, he must take the oars in his hands and work hard to propel the boat of his soul." The Lord will always be near, and He will help. But He still needs our acquiescence. He wants us to exercise humility and obedience, and to give up our lives. A true Christian will not do his will, but the will of God.

In Christian Churches, the icon of the Annunciation is found in the middle of the church floor on the Royal Gates. The Cup of Life enters through these gates during a liturgy. The Annunciation is the feast of our obedience to God, and a flower in the wreath that we are making for the Pascha. On our way to His resurrection, we will go on the Golgotha and the Cross with the Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; Who made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and Who, being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 6-8). Christ's obedience to God and the church to the very death is the way that we all must follow as Christians.

Hegumen Tikhon (Borisov) of Optina Pustyn

April 07, 2022
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