Behold the handmaid of the Lord…

“…be it unto me according to thy word…”

These words of the Most Holy Theotokos should be precious and close to the heart of every orthodox Christian. The Most Holy Theotokos said them on the day of the Annunciation, when Holy Archangel Gabriel addressed Her with the news of the incarnation of the Son of God in Her womb. The meaning of these words is simple enough, however, it is impossible to overstate their significance.

In essence, She, who was about to become the Mother of God, expressed her supreme humility and consent to her extremely difficult vocation by these words. Perhaps, some would be surprised, but Her consent to participate in the economy of our salvation was essential. News from the Archangel about the incarnation of the Son of God within Her womb should have caused many questions and possibly even doubts on Her part, yet She, showing self-control worthy of imitation, asks only one thing: how can She, not knowing Her husband, conceive and bear a Son? Learning, in response, about the decent of the Holy Spirit upon Her and about Her being overshadowed by the power of the Most High, She humbly bows before the will of God and gives Her consent.

This consent is necessary because God never violates the freedom He gave men. God doesn’t save anyone against his will. Today, the Church celebrates the coming of God the Word into the world and glorifies the Mother of God, Who became a temple not made with hands by submitting Her will to the will of the One Who sent the Archangel to visit Her.

Thus, the Most Holy Theotokos becomes the very first Christian because She is the first to know about the coming of the Son of God into the world and because She received Him not only into Her heart, but also into Her womb. She is the first to believe in Him and is His first servant in His earthly life.

Let the great humility of the Mother of God that exalted Her to such heights be an example for all of us. How often do we complain that God doesn’t help us, or doesn’t answer our prayers, yet we do not think whether our plans and desires align with the Divine providence for our salvation? How often are we dismayed and are faint of spirit when the Lord doesn’t come to our aid in obvious need, yet we do not realize that of our own will we do not allow Him to help us? Our stiff-necked wilfulness, our pride, our attachment to sin, our remembrance of wrongs, our greed, and all our other passions, all of it doesn’t allow us to follow the example of the Theotokos and to say: “Here I am, O Lord, I am Thy servant, be it done unto me according to Thy word!”

The Lord is always near and by all means desires our salvation. His Most Pure Mother also always prays for us. Let us also pray that God would give us the strength at all times and in all things to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Let us follow the example of the Most Holy Theotokos and at all times and in all things let us seek God’s holy will. We know that then the Lord will always be with us even as He descended into the womb of His Most Pure Mother. Amen.

Priest Viatcheslav Davidenko