Annunciation:  “Today is revealed the mystery…”

Every year during Great Lent, we celebrate the Great Feast of the Annunciation to the Most-Holy Theotokos on March 25.  This beautiful “festal interlude” allows us to again marvel before the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.  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, the 14th century Saint Nicholas Cabasilas 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 cooperating 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,” Saint Nicholas writes.  “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 sing on the Great Feast of the Annunciation.  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. On this feast let us praise God for the awesome mystery of the Incarnation.