Remembering our beloved Theotokos

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. My beloved, everyday, we thank our Triune God, for being an everlasting and abiding love for all of us, no matter what wretched state we sink into.

Today, March 25, is an especially special feast day for the Orthodox faithful. Today we celebrate the Annunciation of the Theotokos and the actions leading to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Annunciation” means to “announce something important.” And in the Orthodox tradition, we call Blessed Mary, Theotokos, the Greek word meaning “Mother of God.” Our beloved Theotokos, Mother of God, pray for us.
On this day, as we read from Luke 1:26-38, the Archangel Gabriel, visited Mary and greeted her, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” At that moment, Archangel Gabriel, in a simple sentence, said the most profound words preceding the Incarnation of our Lord. Archangel Gabriel affirmed that God has filled Mary FULL of grace, and has invited her to perhaps the greatest vocation of servanthood. When Mary listened to Gabriel, out of her own free will, proclaimed that she would submit and do as she was told, as the maidservant of the Lord.

Many of us may not imagine this, but Blessed Mary, was human, like you or I. God chose her for a blessed vocation, but because Mary was human, she could have said…. NO. Mary was not simply an automaton without free will, and it would have been a serious decision she had to made, certainly not a trivial and unthinking one. God has given Blessed Mary both discernment and strength. Discernment for Mary to know what her carrying of Jesus would mean to the future of mankind, and the strength not to be overwhelmed by this blessed vocation and responsibility.

When the Archangel announced to our Theotokos, she was one of joyous faith and love for God, that she accepted the call to the vocation of being the bearer of God. Likewise, when Jesus was growing up to adulthood, our Theotokos must have felt a great sense of love, care, admiration and reverence all rolled into one as she cared and loved for Christ the child to Christ the man.

As we look at the Old Testament, we find evidence of the eventual Incarnation of the Lord, as God the Father would sweep His disappointment for His children aside, as He is always an abiding love seeking to reconcile us to Him.

For example, in Ezekiel 43 and 44, we find the prophesy of our Lord entering Mary’s womb the same way He will emerge, retaining Mary’s virginity. The “east gate” refers to the closed womb of Mary.

And in Psalm 44:10-18, we see references to a queen and a daughter, symbolizing and foretelling us the coming of the Blessed Mary. In verse 14, we find reference of a hidden, or innate holiness, from the word “within”, telling us that Mary will have righteousness, and only those who pursue righteousness will be able to see hers. And in verse 18, the Orthodox faithful recognize the virtue and holiness of Blessed Mary, and in fulfillment of the Psalmist’s prophesy, we see that Mary will forever be called Blessed, until the infinite future.

Even at the sad moments when our Christ and Lord was crucified, our Holy Mother of God, being the foremost saint in the Church, although experiencing the loss and pain, would have her sight opened by the Holy Spirit to understand and to exalt the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord and Christ.

So let us not forget Blessed Mary, for when our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, as we see in John 19:26-27, He called out to His mother, our Theotokos, to take His beloved disciple Saint John the Apostle as her own son, and likewise, called Saint John to embrace our Theotokos as his own mother. That was our Lord’s call to us, to love and bless her as she has loved Him. For our Most Holy Theotokos has experienced an unexplanable and unsurmountable joy, and that she prays for us all.

Let us say a thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings today:
Ezekiel 43:27 – 44:4
Psalm 44:10-18
St Luke 1:28-48
St John 19:26-27