Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annunciation of the Theotokos

A spiritual message from Metropolitan Alexios:

“Today is the beginning of our salvation,
And the revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
"Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!"
Troparion of the Annunciation

I greet you with joy and love in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the glorious Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, one of the greatest and most ancient Feast Days of our Church, dedicated to the Mother of God, our most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. This wonderful Feast Day was already being celebrated in the fourth century, and there is a painting of the Annunciation in the catacombs dating from the second century. This is one of the twelve great Feast Days because on this day both heaven and earth were changed, when the Virgin Mary said yes to God's astonishing revelation that God the Son should be born as a man into this world. It is inconceivable that a Being who is the Creator of everything should have the desire to become human. Yet this is just what God did, by the assistance of a young girl. Thus there are actually two parts to the Annunciation: God’s message of salvation and love and the response of the Virgin. This is the miracle of salvation that we celebrate on March 25.
For the Virgin Mary's response to the angel's message was straightforward: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” She didn’t ask for more time to consider, or to consult her parents or her betrothed. Quite simply and knowing all the circumstances, she said ‘yes' to God and accepted all the consequences. Thus we see the Virgin Mary as an example of obedience for us - the first Christian disciple. For obedience is more than just doing what we are told, it is the recognition that we are not totally autonomous and separate individuals and that ultimately we belong to God and each other. As servants of the Lord, our obedience consists not only being aware of but more importantly responding to God's call to a renewed commitment to a more Christ-centered life.
Perhaps the critical question is how we respond when God does call us. Sometimes He calls us in ways that turn our whole lives upside down and inside out – sometimes He calls us through our familiar everyday routine, our families and our obligations, seeing there opportunities to grow in faith, humility and love toward one another.
As we lift up our hearts together in prayer to the Mother of God, may we follow her blessed example and respond with simplicity, honesty and love to our God when He calls us: “Here am I. the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” 
I remain
Prayerfully yours with paternal love in Christ, 
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+ALEXIOS 
Metropolitan of Atlanta 

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