"O Earth, proclaim the glad tidings of great joy!”
Today’s celebration is one of the highest joys for all humanity. Archangel Gabriel's salutation “hail” to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth had an extensive influence on every human being, of all generations. The feast day hymns proclaim this joy: "Today is the festivity of joy"; "Today the whole creation rejoices"; “Let creation rejoice, and nature exchange greetings, for the Archangel did stand reverently before the Virgin and offered her joy instead of sorrow” (Doxastikon at Praises)
In Eden's garden, after the disobedience of Adam and Even, mourning and sorrow dominated in Eve's heart. Today, the new Eve, the Virgin Mary, by her obedience to God becomes a cause of joy for the whole world.
In the Garden of Eden, “the serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12: 9) seduced Eve and sent her away from God. In Nazareth, Archangel Gabriel addresses the new Eve, the Virgin Mary, as the representative of the human race, telling her “the "Lord is with you" and thus man is reconnected with God. And indeed, by the incarnation of the Son of God, human nature is reshaped and receives the ancient beauty. Jesus, as the new Adam, honors and glorifies human nature and restores it to its pre-fall state.
That is why we chant joyfully: "Today are joyful tidings." “Today is disclosed the mystery before the ages; and the Son of God shall become the Son of Man; …God became Man so that Adam might become as God” (Doxastikon at Praises). Starting from this fact, God's plan for the salvation of man begins to unfold. The love of the Triune God for man is fathomless.
However, we must also stress the contribution of the Virgin Mary to the fulfillment of God's plan for the salvation of man.
God considered that there should be a free acceptance of His plan by man for the regeneration and salvation of the world. “When the fullness of the time had come” (Gal. 4: 4), that is, the right time, God, chose Nazareth's virgin daughter, the Virgin Mary, as the representative of the human race, in serving the work of the salvation of the world. As Luke the Evangelist describes, God sent Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her that she is of all women the blessed one, the chosen, to become the Mother of His Son. Yet, he does not oblige her; he lets her to decide freely for herself. From the well-known dialogue between the Virgin and the Archangel, we see that when the Virgin was ascertained that this was the will of God, she willingly obeyed, and replied humbly: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38) This new Eve, by obeying, she removes the disobedience of the first Eve.
Here, let us cite an interesting excerpt from a relevant sermon of Saint Nicholas Cavasilas: "It would not be possible for God to wish to come down to earth, unless there was a suitable person who would receive Him and wish to serve in the work of salvation. Nor would have been possible for God's will for our salvation to be fulfilled, if the Virgin had not believed in it and had refused her cooperation. This is evident from the fact that during the moments the Virgin sought to learn how pregnancy would occur, God did not come down to earth. But, the moment the Virgin was convinced and accepted the invitation, only then the whole work was accomplished at once. God put on man as His garment and the Virgin became the mother of the Creator. And thus, the incarnation of the Word was the work not only of the Father, who "consented”, and of his Power which was "overshadowed", nor of the Holy Spirit, who "came down", but also of the will and faith of the Virgin.”
And the Saint concludes: “How great was the faith of the Virgin! ... The greatness of her soul was revealed by the fact that the Virgin accepted and believed in the angel's paradoxical word: that God was to come truly on earth, that he would personally take care of our salvation and that she (the Virgin) would be able to minister actively by participating in this work! Let her be blessed she who believed in what the Lord had told her would come true! "
That is why the Church does not cease to honor the Virgin Mother in every way to express her thanks and gratitude for her crucially important contribution to the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On the contrary, how great a mistake is made by those who, while wanting to be called Christians, have not understood the greatness of the Theotokos and do not give her the proper honor.
Yet, we, as Orthodox believers, with a centuries old Tradition, let us not stop praising the Theotokos, who is “the ever-blessed and all blameless one, and the Mother of our God”. And, at the same time, let us ask her to help us imitate her strong faith, her obedience, her humility and her devotion to the mission that God assigned to her; and just like her, let us “commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God”. Amen.