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Metropolitan Joseph's Pastoral Message for the Feast of The Annunciation

March 25, 2015

Behold, our restoration is now made manifest; God is ineffably joined to man.  At the words of the Archangel, error has vanished. The Virgin has received the joyful news, and the things of earth have become those of heaven.  The world is released from the ancestral curse.  Let the whole creation rejoice, singing a hymn of praise, Lord our creator and deliverer, Glory to You!   ~From the Vesperal Aposticha for the Feast of the Annunciation

We greet you with love and joy on this Feast of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Most Holy Theotokos.

The reading above transmits to us the essence of this feast, which is the action of a loving God which initiates the events by which humankind is saved from the ancestral error of Adam and Eve.  The Archangel announces to the woman who will become the Most Holy Theotokos that she has been chosen to be the vessel through which God Himself will take human flesh, become a Man, and dwell among his creation.  Through her complete and unconditional acceptance of the will of God, the Virgin Mary becomes a participant in the transformation of the things of this earth into heavenly things.  The womb of the Virgin is destined to contain that which the universe itself cannot contain and she becomes the one who is more spacious than the heavens.  Saint Cyril of Jerusalem expresses the relationship of the Virgin to Eve when he says that “through Eve, yet a virgin, came death, there was need that through a Virgin, or rather from a Virgin, life should appear; that as the serpent deceived the one, so Gabriel should bring the good news to the other.” The joining of earth to heaven is also expressed by St. Ambrose who says “By a man and woman flesh was driven from paradise; by a Virgin it was joined with God.” 

The great joy of this feast, occurring in the midst of the solemn Season of the Great Fast, causes us to pause in brief celebration before we resume the spiritual struggle which accompanies our Lenten journey.  We convey our most heartfelt love to you as we celebrate this joyous feast and we ask our gracious Lord to bless you and to grant that the remainder of the Lenten Season will bring you spiritual rewards.

Yours in Christ,

+JOSEPH
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archidiocese of North America

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