Homily 256 – Annunciation
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
March 25, 2017
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
We hear the story of the Theotokos and her encounter with the archangel Gabriel, and we hear the famous words.
Behold, the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.
That assent, that agreement was a moment in humanity’s redemption on par with the moment that humanity said, well, the fruit looks good to eat.
And we celebrate this day that restoration – the one that would ultimately come from the One born of her.
What Mary did in that moment, that pivotal moment, was to subjugate her will, her desire, to that of God. By choice.
She offered herself.
What must it have taken for a young virgin, sheltered, hidden away – for this young virgin to trust in God.
I’m sure she was aware of the shame of an unwed mother. In her day, an unwed mother could be stoned to death.
But I’m equally sure that she wasn’t thinking about that in the moment. She was thinking, though – she asked a very intelligent question.
How can this be, as I have not known a man?
Her question tells us a lot – she wasn’t a simpleton. She knew about how conception occurred, and she understood that what the Archangel was telling her was outside of the normal course of things.
She was given her cousin, Elizabeth, as a reference as to the God who does the impossible.
But in that moment, I have to think her first reaction was – OK. If God says, it must be. Who am I to question or argue or doubt?
Unlike Adam and Eve in the garden – who questioned and argued and doubted.
And that makes her the mother of our Lord, and a very influential intercessor on our behalf with her Son.
Because she said yes.
Her message to the servants at the wedding feast in Cana is the same message she offers us today, in the Annunciation account, and in her icon even – do what he tells you.
For in obedience, and unquestioning acceptance – we find our salvation. Our joy. Our freedom.
We are, in that obedience and acceptance, restored. Our will, our want, our desire – whatever you want to call it – is placed in proper, willing, loving subjection to God.
We don’t have to do this. But any other course of action leads to our destruction. Our decay. What the Scriptures and hymns of the church calls “corruption.”
We don’t know why things happen. Only that they do. And that our response is one of two options.
Either we accept it – perhaps not immediately – but eventually, or we reject it.
If we accept it, we are drawn closer to God. If we reject it, we push ourselves away from God.
It is truly that simple. The ascetical discipline of the Church is geared to offer us practice in this skill. To submit to something other than ourselves.
This is blasphemy to our American ears, so proud of our so-called self-sufficiency and our individualism.
But it is the reality of the world. The nature of our existence.
What drives us toward Christ, is good.
Accept and embrace it – as the young virgin who gave birth to Christ accepted and embraced the Annunciation.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!