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The Feast of Annunciation – by Pope Shenouda III

The feast of the Annunciation comes every year on the 29th of Baramhat. There is between it and the Feast of the Nativity which comes on the 29th of Kiahk, a period of nine months that constitutes the peiod of the holy pregnancy with the Lord Christ.

Thus the feast of the Annunciation is the first among the Lord feasts. We remember in it the Annunciation of the archangel Gabriel to the Holy Virgin saying to her: “Hail to you, you full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! … And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1: 26-33).

When the Virgin was astonished saying: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”, the angel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1: 34-35).

The angel announced to her about the conception of Elisabeth while she was an old woman. Then he said: “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

The Virgin received this annunciation, or this assignment, with submission to the divine will and said: “Behold the maid-servant of the Lord! Let it be according to your word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1: 38-39) … having accomplished his mission.

The Beginning of Reconciliation:

The annunciation of the birth of the Lord Christ was the beginning of the reconciliation between heaven and earth: The beginning of the reconciliation between God and men, after a long dissension since Adam and Eve … The way to the tree of life was closed, and was guarded by the cherubim with a flaming sword (Gen. 3:24). The Holiest of All was behind the veil, and nobody from the people could enter it (Heb. 9: 3,7).

In the previous period to the coming of the Lord Christ, there were neither prophets, nor talking between God and men, nor holy visions, nor angels whom God sent to men … It was a long period during which human beings were alienated from God. Then came the Annunciation as a prelude of reconciliation between God and men. The visions of angels multiplied, accompanied by rejoicing epistles that were the Annunciation of the Saviour …

It was an annunciation of a spiritual salvation. An annunciation of a Saviour who will save men from their sins, and not a political saviour who would save from the dominion of
Romans. It was rather a salvation “by the remisssion of their sins” (Luke 1:77). As the priest Zacharias prophecised saying about this salvation “Through the tender mercy of our God … to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1: 78:79).

Salvation was to be completed upon the Cross, when Christ carried our sins and died for them. But the salvation upon the Cross would not have been completed unless if first Christ were born. Here was the importance of the Annunciation of the Nativity of Christ who will deliver his people from their sins, and the annunciation of the salvation from the dominion of Satan, and the annunciation of the salvation from the judgement of death, and from the dissension which was between God and men …

The road to salvation then, began with the Annunciation. The old man Simeon saw it in the Nativity of Christ, and said to the Lord: “For my eyes have seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:30); that is the procession of the salvation, and the procession of the journey from the
Nativity to Golgotha. He saw them with the spirit of prophecy!

The Annunciation of Salvation:

It is the feast not simply of the Annunciation of the Nativity, but the Annunciation of the beginning of salvation. We bring the good news to people that God had begun the
execution of His divine plan for the salvation of the human race; beginning with the operation of the Incarnation by the holy pregnancy, which leads to Nativity, and then to the Cross, and the Redemption, then the Resurrection and the destruction of the judgement of death.

In the feast of the Annunciation, we bring the good news to everybody, that his salvation is near, and that God has decreted to save. As He said when He granted salvation to the chief tax collector Zaccheus: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19: 9-10). He who saved the tax collector Zaccheus in spite of all his iniquities, He is able to save any sinner. And He who came to save those who have perished, He also is ready to save those who have fallen!

How beautiful is it that we present the annunciation of salvation to every one who is under a yoke. We say to those who are tired and under heavy charges, here is the Lord who says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

And we say to those have broken hearts: The Lord has come for you and for your rest and for your delivery. Is He not the One who said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). With this, we plant hope and joy in the hearts of people. Verily how true is the word of the Bible: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15). The Bible says also: “a good report makes the bones healthy” (Prov. 15:30).

Let then be in your mouths a good word that rejoices people, and good news that fills their hearts with hope … Say to the sinner that repentance is easy, and that the grace of God is capable of facilitating for you the way of repentance; and God looks for you, and He will inevitably find you and bring you back to Him. Therefore your salvation from sin is possible and easy. And as the apostle saint Paul said: “now it is high time to awake ot of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). The Lord is ready to accept us to Him whatever we have gone astray far from Him, as He previously accepted the lost son (Luke 15), and as He accepted the apostle Peter (John 21) although he had precedently denied Him, and swore and cursed and said: “I do not know the Man” (Matt. 26:74).

May the blessing of this holy feast of Annunciation be with us all. Amen.

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