March 25, 2019
Feast of the Annunciation
Day of Greek Independence
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,
Todayis “the revelation of the mystery planned from eternity.” (Apolytikion of the Feast) It is the Feast of the Annunciation, and we celebrate God’s revelation of His grace to the Virgin Mary. It is a new day as the Archangel Gabriel announced the Incarnation of Christ, saying to the Theotokos, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:31)Today we commemorate a sacred event, when the love and will of God was made known to humankind.
This day and this holy Feast is a day of joy. We sing the exclamation of the Virgin Mary, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! (Luke 1:46-47). We offer thanksgiving and praise to God for His marvelous works and His glorious revelation. Through the message of the Gospel, we affirm that joy greeted the Incarnation of our Lord; joy filled the hearts of the multitudes who received Him in faith and those who found hope; and joy compelled many to go forth to the ends of the world and proclaim the blessed and eternal life that comes through Christ and the Gospel.
With joy in our hearts we sing that this day is the “crown of our salvation.” This is the day when the path of reconciliation and union with God was made known. Through the Incarnation He showed His abundant love so that our communion with Him could be restored. It is the day that led to the Cross and the Resurrection, showing that the power of death was defeated and that eternal life is bestowed on those who come to Christ in faith.
Today is a day of liberty. The grace of God has been revealed. Christ is incarnate so that as He said, He has come topreach the good news to the poor, to heal those of a broken heart and to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18) With the announcement of the angel to the Virgin Mary, the promises of God are fulfilled and our hope is renewed. Through the truth of His revelation we are set free from our burdens to be redeemed into the glorious life and light of His love.
It is this day and the joy and hope of the Feast of the Annunciation that inspired our forbearers to begin their struggle for liberty. After centuries of oppression, the people of Greece could no longer bear the yoke of captivity and the burdens of occupation. In 1821 they found strength in unity, hope in faith, and determination in their goal to be free. They knew that the reestablishment of the Greek nation was the only course toward securing freedom for generations to come. Today we remember their bravery and sacrifice in solemnity and gratitude, affirming that we are the blessed heirs of the independence gained through their struggles.
The celebration of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and of the Incarnation of our Lord, is a celebration of the revelation of God’s love and God’s gift. It is a feast of joy. It is a feast of joy and liberty, as we commemorate our Greek fathers and mothers who offered their lives in order to establish freedom for themselves and for us, their children.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America