The Feast Day of the Annunciation: The Backstory of Salvation
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
St. Luke 1:27
As we enter Great Lent, just over one week past the start of our complete abstinence from all animal products, one must wonder how it all began. By “began” I don’t mean the beginning of the Son of God, for the Trinity always was, is and will be. But rather, from our perspective here on earth, when were the initial signs that this world would be forever changed by His presence? To most it is known and remembered on a yearly basis that He was crucified (Good Friday) and had resurrected (Pashca). Fewer, but many still, also take part in Great Lent or at least some period of fasting and prayer. One Great Feast day, however, really explains how it all started – how it was that God’s only begotten son was mystically, on a cosmic level, able to fulfill His plan into stripping the burden of sin from our backs and reveal to us the path to an eternity with Him through Salvation in our Savior. And through understanding, or at the least being exposed to, the basic premise of The Feast Day of the Annunciation, we can learn a big part about how in all of us is born the opportunity to live a life in Christ if we were only to open our ears to the Word.
In general terms, the Annunciation is the announcement to our Most Holy Lady Theotokos – the Virgin Mary – of the coming conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This announcement to her seems rather unambiguous from our perspective, as we have the luxury of knowing this through the word of God (the Bible); after all, it was clearly stated in the Scripture that Gabriel explained to her that not only she was going to give birth to the Son of God, but also to name him Jesus. But Mary did not have that luxury. We could all safely admit that, in this day and age, one would assume that it was instead “something one ate.” The Theotokos still believed it, however, and through her trusting in God she did not doubt this to be true but rather humbly revealed her inability to comprehend how it could be possible if having not been with a man. What a great example of one who does not rely on what they see or understand to have faith in the works of God; what a great example of one who is humble and has favor in the eyes of our Lord.
By listening to an angel – one who was in the form of a man at that – a parallel was created to today’s world where we often have the opportunity to listen to the voice of God within us or through others, but lack the strength to see or understand. This is not because of being uneducated or not even necessarily for to a lack of trying – but instead it could be looked at as not being a true “fool for Christ:” to genuinely follow Him in all our ways without doubt, question or the need to prove anything at all to oneself. And this is where the mystical connection between Him and us becomes particularly fascinating: for as the Annunciation marks the first true sign to the world of Christ’s connection to humanity, it reveals that one who is truly humble and trusting can be worthy of Him and that truly the lesser of us could be the first to enter His kingdom. It reveals humanity’s connection to Him and how therefore his essence, being fully divine and fully human at the same time, allows us to know that we are in His image and moving toward His likeness. He is thus identified with us and us in Him. All this we gather from the Annunciation.
Without this knowledge of the conception (which to our knowledge is the only understandable way toward the Incarnation, betrayal, crucifixion and Resurrection), and without this conception being more than a only an allegory in the bible, there is no real way we can claim anything about our future in Him to be true. Once we get beyond the initial mystery, and accept it as both a mystery and a blessing – we as humans do tend to avoid things we do not understand and so that is why we struggle in faith – we can then begin to understand a little bit more of the purpose of why it is that we celebrate important but little known days such as the Annunciation. With this, we see the importance of the Church, our relationship with all of humanity and last but not least the path we take in our daily lives to become closer to eternity forever in bliss.
Therefore the Annunciation is the true backstory of how Christ was to save us, as being both fully human and fully divine was in God’s plan the beginning for Jesus to die on the cross, suffering for us, and saving us through the Resurrection. And it’s consequently the first – the “beginning” – of four great feast days during or near the time of Great Lent – the others being Palm Sunday, the Ascension and Pentecost.
Until the next Feast Day,