Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Homily on the Annunciation by St. Luke of Simferopol


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea

Our Church celebrates today three important historic events.

The first is the Annunciation of the Theotokos, which we celebrate today with joy and love, along with awe before the majesty of this event, called the "capital" of our salvation.

Nine months after the Annunciation the second of the important events took place, the Birth according to the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The pinnacle and completion of our salvation was the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ after His horrible death on the Cross.

Not just once but many times have holy angels been manifested. Six months before the Annunciation of the All Holy Virgin Mary the Archangel Gabriel was sent to the priest Zechariah, who was serving in the Temple, to announce that from him would be born the greatest among men, the Forerunner of the Lord, John. And today this same Archangel brings the joyful message to the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, who lived in a humble and poor home of the carpenter Joseph.

The dialogue of the Panagia is so holy and majestic that I dare not describe it in my own words, but I must repeat the words of the Gospel.

When the Archangel entered the room, he said:

"Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women."

She was terrified by these words, and she considered such a greeting troubling, and the angel went on to say:

"Do not be afraid, Mariam, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

“How will this be,” Mariam asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For with God nothing is impossible.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mariam answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Lk. 1:26-38).

In previous years I have told you many things about this most unique dialogue in the history of the world. But now I will stand on the words of the Archangel:

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

No one ever, since the creation of the world and even until its end, has been born nor will be born in a way that is similar to that of the God-man Jesus Christ. No one has ever been born without a man. No one was ever born or will be born by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has never dwelt in anyone with such comprehensive thoroughness as He did with His indwelling of the All Holy Virgin Mary. The power of the Highest has never encompassed anyone, and the maternal bowels of no woman has ever been sanctified with such completeness and power, as the bowels of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

Hold deep within your heart what I tell you about the complete unity of the Spirit of God and the human essence of Mary.

The soul and spirit of man have their beginning in the Spirit of God. The second chapter of the Old Testament, records how God created the first man, Adam, "from the dust of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7).

Only the spirit of man can commune with the Spirit of God, since it comes from Him, just as in nature there is real communication between related things.

The possibility of true communion with God was taught by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who said:

"Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (Jn 14:23).

Even the Apostle Paul with some surprise asks the Christians of Corinth:

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).

From the lives of the saints we know what authentic communion with God is, which the saints of God had in their lives. We know that they were dwelling-places of the Spirit of God. Yet even this deep communion with God cannot be compared to that blessed state, which even exceeds the state of angels and archangels, in which the Most Holy Virgin Mary was found after the coming of the Holy Spirit.

This the unfortunate heretic Nestorius was unable, or better, he did did not want to understand, since he claimed that the Most Holy Theotokos gave birth to a common man Jesus Christ, who was later united with God, which is why the Most Holy Virgin Mary he named Christotokos and not Theotokos.

If, even minimally, Nestorius was correct, then our Lord Jesus Christ would not have been the Son of God and the God-man, but merely one of the many great saints, who are called true temples and dwelling-places of the Father and the Son for their endless love of God and the perfect application in their lives of the commandments of Christ. As you can see, Nestorius was rightly anathematized by the Third Ecumenical Synod.

At this point I can complete my encomiastic words in honor of this great feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos. But I do not want to overlook those words of the Archangel Gabriel, which enter within every pure heart:

"Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you."

All of you, who are united in soul with me, tell me, is there a higher and purer joy than this, that gives a feeling that the Lord is with us! That He loves us, and because we keep His commandments, He will come with His Unoriginate Father to dwell with us!

May our Lord and God Jesus Christ make us worthy of this highest happiness and joy, through the intercessions of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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