07 April 2024
Today is the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos. It is a day of spiritual spring, on which we commemorate the beginning of our salvation. Today is also a special Sunday of Great Lent — the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. The Cross of the Lord — a symbol of the redeeming deed of Jesus Christ and His glorious Resurrection — is brought out in churches for veneration by the faithful and for their strengthening.
After a succession of centuries outside Paradise, mankind estranged themselves from God and deepened the gulf between themselves and their Creator ever more. Entire generations were born and passed away without witnessing the fulfilment of the promise of the Messiah’s coming into the world.
All that time, people had to live through wars, captivities, famines, and pestilences, and still the Saviour did not come. It started to seem to some that God had forgotten His people, that people had been left on their own. Some fell into despair and total unbelief, and some openly sided with evil.
There were also a few who preserved a spark of faith, hope, and love. Who lived with the memory of God, kept faithfulness to Him, fenced themselves with His commandments, and patiently awaited salvation. The young Virgin Mary became the pinnacle of this small part of humanity — the people of God.
Her openness to God, the beauty and purity of Her soul, Her obedience and humility, and Her holiness became a reason that the day came when the Archangel Gabriel descended onto earth with the glad tidings of the birth of the Son of God from Her. This event became the beginning of the incarnation of the God-man Christ, Who had the strength and power to defeat the prevailing evil, sin, and death, erect a bridge through the abyss of forsakenness by God, and bring to men true peace and well-being.
The Bible teaches us that God never abandons His favourite creation — man. But, respecting our freedom, He expects a sincere and voluntary response from us. He is always ready to abundantly pour out His healing, transfiguring, and sanctifying grace into hearts cleansed by repentance, adorned with humility, and warmed by love.
Today, the world is once again plunged into the furnace of severe trials. Malice, mutual hatred, animosity, and injustice are getting stronger, and all of it chills the souls of people. The cries ‘where is your God when there is so much suffering and pain around?’ are heard more and more often.
We should not be afraid or discouraged! The truth is that God always stands by us. He is with us if we tirelessly seek Him, if we invoke His Holy Name in faith, if we humbly bow our heads and kneel down before Him and try to be like the Most Holy Theotokos and all the saints who pleased God since the world began.
He is where there is suffering. He is where there is weeping. He is where there is repentance and prayer. He is where His Holy Church is. He wants to enter every life, so as to take its hardness and so as to enlighten everything with His light and bestow His peace upon everyone.
‘Today is the beginning of our salvation…’ sings the Holy Church on the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos. Today is a day of triumph and joy, both in Heaven and on earth.
And may the good tidings that we are not forgotten by God strengthen us all in faith, help us to overcome all the trials, and warm our hearts with the warmth of spring.
Happy Feast, dear brothers and sisters!
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