Homily on Annunciation – March 25, 2020

This is a day of great rejoicing!  Today, the Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will miraculously conceive the Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us.  And so, today we celebrate the beginning of God’s redemption of man by virtue of the conception of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.  God announces to us today liberation from the captivity of our sins, our liberation from the endless cycle of sin and death, pride and wanton separateness from God because of our disobedience.  Today, God announces to us a better way, that of repentance and humility, the way of healing—for that which Christ has assumed, has been healed.  

By taking on human nature, Christ has vivified it, made it alive again, and reversed and undone what we by our sin and disobedience damaged and darkened through our own sins.  Christ, the new Adam, has renewed and reversed that separation from God wrought by Adam’s pride and Eve’s disobedience.  The new Eve, the Birth-Giver of God, says instead, “Yes” to God, “May it be done unto me according to Thy word.”  

The way of repentance has been announced to us in fulfillment of God’s holy promise.  The way of returning to God, to our true selves, identity, purpose, and value that God has implanted in us, having created us in His image and likeness.  The troparion of the Feast proclaims to us that “today is the beginning of our salvation.”

Today is the beginning of our salvation, / 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: / Hail, O Full of Grace, / the Lord is with You!

The Feast of the Annunciation falls outside of the Lenten cycle, but it’s another gift when it comes to us during Lent: a reminder of God’s gracious, self-emptying kenosis, humility, that His Holy Mother also exhibits in her yes to God and His will—even as it stands against reason, even against the laws of nature, she boldly says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

The plague we are currently battling has come to us this Lent.  For many, it has acted to remind us of what is most important in life, the “One thing needful,” Christ and eternal life in Him. We are reminded of the value and fragility of human life but also of the strength that comes from having that life “hidden in Christ.”  Many have been reminded of things they need to repent of and no longer put off repenting of.  This is how God works redemption even from the vice-grip of our fallen, sinful world.   

Now, having begun the fourth week of the Fast, we ask ourselves where we’re at with those ascetical efforts and goals we set for our Lent.  What have we learned through our fasting, praying, struggling to trust God and fear Him over the uncertainties and priorities of this world that have so quickly been pulled out from under all of humanity?

This day is a day of rejoicing; it is also a day of power; it is a day when intercession is most possible.  For today, on the Feast Day of her Annunciation and yes to God’s will, we have a faithful intercessor before the throne of her Son and our God, our Lord Jesus Christ.  I implore you to not let this opportunity pass you by: let us fervently ask the Holy Mother’s prayers for us and for our protection, both physical and spiritual, that we may not find ourselves fearing the virus more than we are prioritizing the things of God and growing in holy fear and awe of Him.  Let us pray for protection for us and healing for all who are sin-sick as well as those sick from the virus.  Now is the time to make use of the rest of the Great Fast to grow in faith and prioritize or re-prioritize our communion with Christ God and His Kingdom over all that is temporal and can so easily be swept away.  

It’s not yet too late to bring Christ or more of Christ into the midst of your life.  He is here.  He awaits you.  He loves you.  He desires the best for us.  He desires our eternity with Him, knowing Him, His Light and Life.  His Holy Mother, the Theotokos (Birth-Giver of God), stands ready to assist us, to help us learn that same spirit of humility that she exemplified in her consent to God, as she replies to the Archangel Gabriel, “may it be done unto me according to your word.”  Ask her this day, especially, for her fervent prayers on your behalf, for what you need to be more faithful and courageous in your faith.  Develop the same spirit in yourself that she exhibits to us by way of example in her humble and courageous “yes” to God and His holy will. 

This is the day that we lay hold of the hope set before us, which is God’s promise of His desire to save our souls and bring us to the joy of His Kingdom, life with Him.  We have only to answer as did the blessed Virgin when God’s will was made known to her concerning her miraculous conception, “May it be done unto me according to Thy word” for “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”  Our Holy Mother intercedes for us.  Ask her for her prayers for protection, for God to put a swift end to this virus, to redeem this tragedy by teaching us something we need to learn to be furthered in faith, prioritizing our life in Christ and our participation even now in His Heavenly Kingdom.  Through her prayers, He will give us the strength to faithfully finish the course of the Fast, to grow in faith and deification, even as we journey with Her Son and our God to His glorious defeat of sin and death on the third day!   

Fr. Robert Miclean

Holy Archangels Orthodox Church

25 March 2020—Holy Annunciation

Epistle: Hebrews 2:11-18 (Annunciation) 

Gospel: Luke 1:24-38 (Annunciation)