Web Posted March 19, 2015
Encyclicals from Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
March 25, 2015
Feast of the Annunciation
Day of Greek Independence
My soul magnifies the Lord…. For He
Who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name. (Luke 1:46-49)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, is a day when we celebrate a truly amazing and miraculous revelation. At the event of the Annunciation, the messenger of God appeared before Mary and announced the divine plan for our salvation through the birth of Christ. The words of the Archangel Gabriel revealed how God’s promises would be fulfilled and the ancient prophesies affirmed. As he spoke and as the Virgin Mary believed and expressed her willingness to serve God, the Holy Spirit came upon her, and she exclaimed: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, all generations henceforth will call me blessed. For He Who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name (Luke 1:46-49).
This revelation to the Theotokos was and continues to be a revelation of truth and of God’s unfathomable wisdom. Through the Incarnation of Christ came the fulfillment of His promises to Adam and Eve and to all humanity. The time for restoration had come. In the entrance of God into our human reality, assuming the flesh and blood He had created, His plan of redemption was accomplished. The purpose and meaning of our creation, the priority of liberation from sin and evil, of communion with God, and the manner of the life of holiness were now revealed in the event of the Annunciation.
The Annunciation also revealed the tremendous and immeasurable power of God. His power over creation was shown in the miraculous event of our Lord’s conception. Through the Annunciation it was revealed that the temporal darkness of sin and the despair of death would be vanquished through the invincible power of God, causing the Theotokos to sing, My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…. For He who is mighty has done great things for me (Luke 1:47-49).
In this holy and divine revelation, we also see God’s infinite grace. The Annunciation was filled with God’s love, and this was shown through the Incarnation as Christ became man for us and for our salvation. The event revealed God’s power to give, sustain and restore life. His revelation for our sake was given to the Theotokos, not to kings and rulers, affirming that salvation comes through grace, humility, and faith, not through mundane power, status, or force.
The Feast of the Annunciation and the truth, power, and grace of God’s revelation were the inspiration for our Greek forbearers who began the struggle for independence on this day in 1821. Affirming the truth of life and liberty as inherent to human existence, these valiant people overcame a greater force and centuries of Ottoman oppression. Through their love of God and freedom, of their Hellenic heritage and Orthodox faith, they were able to offer generations to come, a free nation and society where self-determination, liberty, and faith would be cherished. As we celebrate this Feast and Greek Independence Day, we honor the memory of our ancestors, and we seek the inspiration and courage to uphold and preserve all that they fought and died to achieve.
Today, we join together in this remembrance and commemoration, as we also express through our worship the truth, power and love of God’s revelation in the Annunciation to the Theotokos. As Orthodox Christians we know and affirm that ultimate victory over death, oppression, hatred, and violence is won in this same manner. His truth will endure all things. His power will give life and salvation. His love will bring hope and assurance. On this day of celebration may we offer a powerful witness of God’s truth and love, revealing to others, as He has to us, the way to abundant and true life.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America