March 26, 2023

Homily Three on the Annunciation of the Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1957)

The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the greatest events in the history of the world, which we now celebrate not only with joy and love, but also with tremulous fear, for this is the “foremost”, that is, the beginning of our salvation.

I will not retell the only great conversation in the history of the world between the Archangel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will dwell only on the words: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

No one and never, from the creation of the world to the end of it, was born and will not be born like the God-man Jesus Christ. No one has ever been born without a father. Nobody was born and will not be born by the influx of the Holy Spirit. No one has ever been indwelled by the Spirit of God with such complete fullness as He indwelled in the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one was overshadowed by the power of the Most High and no mother's womb was sanctified with such fullness and power as the womb of the Blessed Virgin.

Remember that I am talking about the total union of the Spirit of God with Mary's being as a human.

The human spirit and soul have their origin in the Spirit of God, for in the first chapter of the Holy Bible it is said that God created the first man Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his face the breath of life. With the Spirit of God, the human spirit that originated from Him can have communion, just as in nature everything that is kindred has communion with one another. We know about the possibility of close fellowship with God from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “Whoever loves Me will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). And the Apostle Paul, as if even with surprise, asks the Corinthian Christians: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (I Cor. 3:16).

From the lives of the saints it is known in what close communion with God they spent their holy life, for they were the abodes of the Spirit of God. But even this deep communion with God cannot be compared with that state of grace, surpassing the Angels and Archangels, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary was after the influx of the Holy Spirit upon Her. The unfortunate heretic Nestorius did not understand this, or probably did not want to understand, who claimed that the Most Holy Theotokos gave birth to a simple man Jesus Christ, with whom God united only later, and therefore he called the Virgin Mary the Mother of Christ, and not the Mother of God.

If Nestorius were right even in the slightest degree, then our Lord Jesus Christ would not be the Son of God and not the God-man, but only one of the many great saints who should be called true temples and abodes of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit for their boundless love for God and the perfect fulfillment of all the commandments of Christ. As you can see, Nestorius justly deserved an anathema from the Third Ecumenical Synod.

With this, I could end my words of praise for the great feast of the Annunciation, but I do not want to ignore the words of the Archangel Gabriel penetrating into every pure heart: “Rejoice, you who are full of grace! The Lord is with you!”

Tell me, all of you who are of one mind with me, can joy be higher and purer for you than the consciousness and even the feeling that the Lord is with you, that He loved you for the fulfillment of His commandments, that He will come to you with His Beginningless Father and will you create an abode?!

This supreme happiness and joy, through the prayers of the Most Holy and Most Pure Virgin Mary, may the Lord our God Jesus Christ vouchsafe you all! Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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