he Feast of the Incarnation is perhaps the most significant Feast of the Church. Without this beginning the would be nothing, without Mary, no Incarnation. Our language may seem extravagant and our frequent references to Mary in our prayers may seem excessive, but both mark the immense importance of Mary in the life of the Church. Recently, a member of the Baptist Church remarked to his friend, ‘we have not paid enough attention to the role of Mary’. We in Orthodoxy have.
God’s overflowing with love and goodness created mankind as the true image of Himself, He made man and woman in the image of God and let them share His sovereignty, His overall care of Creation. Only men and women in the whole of creation are made in the image of God. Sadly this sovereignty had been disfigured and diminished and had to be restored, but how? Here was God’s plan. In order to restore man and woman and creation to it’s original beauty, the Creator Himself, God Himself had to become incarnate, take on our nature in it’s fullness. The only way was to have young maiden, a virgin who could take on this role. Nicholas Cabasilas in his sermon for the Annunciation describes how God was overjoyed when He was aware that such a woman existed and because of her purity, her devotion, her perfection, He, God, could not wait longer for His plan of action to be put in place. The incarnation was now possible.
Mary retained the innocence and purity of childhood and continued to be so close to God in her prayerfulness without distraction. She was always aware that she was in God’s presence and, indeed, she had become His handmaiden. ’Behold the handmaid of the Lord’ spilled instantly from her lips when challenged by the Angel Gabriel when he visited her. ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb, O all pure one,’ was His reply."
And so we in turn exclaim. "O Virgin Mary, the light of God dawned from your womb, spreading over the whole earth, the light of God’s threefold nature. Through you, O pure virgin, through God’s rays, earth became another heaven"
"Praise the Lord, all you His works; exalt Him above all for ever."
Our Lord born of Mary, took his flesh from her - Mother like son. His disciples must have seen her in him and him in her.
Incarnation means that everything of the mother is passed into the child, not only physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. All this arises at birth, a potential to be developed in loving care and upbringing. Mary’s emotions, love , care, devotion were there to bring up her son. Her personality and devotion to God, were there to guide. Her spirituality and prayer poured into him. She gave him his full humanity.
"Blessed indeed is the fruit of your womb and blessed are you who formed him and nurtured him into the fullness of the image of God. By your purity and closeness to God he was fully enabled for his life ahead."
Yes, he was God, but it was Mary who gave him his human nature and ensured that by giving birth to him and nurture of him, he became the full, undistorted image of God in man.
One of the most beautiful hymns is to be found in the First Hour, said daily:
"What shall we call thee, O thou who art full of grace? Heaven, for thou hast caused the Sun of Righteousness to rise? Paradise, for thou has blossomed forth the Flower of Immortality? Virgin, for thou hast remained without corruption (sin)? Pure Mother, for thou hast held in thy holy embrace a Son, who is God of all? Beseech thou him to save our souls."
The Troparion of the Feast marks its significance for us:
"Today is the beginning of our salvation and the revelation of the Mystery that was planned from all eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces this grace. Let us join him in crying out to the Mother of God: “Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you!”
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others