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The Joy of the Annunciation in Every Day Life

Today the Virgin conceives God; nine months from now, creation will welcome its king. My brothers and sisters, we know this story well, but what does it have to do with us today?

This article was made into a video by its author, Benjamin Cabe, which can be viewed here.

Today the Virgin conceives God; nine months from now, creation will welcome its king. My brothers and sisters, we know this story well, but what does it have to do with us today

Consider this image of the newly pregnant Mary – Christ is now present in her womb and he will remain there for nine months. Look at how she cares for Him; how she never forgets that He is present; how the promise of his birth always remains in the front of her mind how she patiently works towards this promise, day by day. 

Anyone who has been around a pregnant woman can attest her patient endurance, her anticipation of her child’s birth. How she takes vitamins and attends frequent appointments at the doctor. How she is careful in every movement, to be sure that she does not to harm the child.  How she speaks of the child in her womb – and how she look forward to his birth, Sometimes impatiently, especially if in the late stages of pregnancy. 

Today the Church shows us that the pregnant woman generally and the Theotokos specifically is a true image of the Christian life. And the message of the Annunciation for us today, is that we should imitate the Virgin Mary. For we too have received the Word. We too have conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit in Baptism. And we too are working towards His birth in our hearts.

But if we are not careful we can abort Him by our negligence. And instead conceive the desires of the world, which when fully grown, give birth to death. There are only two options: life or death. And everything we do, every movement we make, affects the outcome. And so the question for us to reflect on today is, do we look forward to Christ’s birth in our hearts – our birth into Eternity – with the same eagerness of the pregnant woman? The evil one will do everything he can to distract us. He will work tirelessly to ensure that we have a stillbirth – that we give birth to anything but Christ. 

He will whisper lies in our ears: “Christianity is an eternal labor! Take a break for a bit. Live a little It’s your life, it’s your body after all. Eat this– look at that– you could really use one of those. That’ll make you feel better.” 

Brothers and sisters, we cannot afford to give ear such thoughts. Does a pregnant woman forget about the child in her womb? Does she fail to anticipate his birth? No, the pregnant woman is aware of every movement. She is attuned to the health of the child in her womb. Even while she sleeps she is aware of her child. And at times, she is painfully aware him. She aches. She hurts. But she never forgets him. She never stops looking toward his birth. This is her hope and her joy.

If this is so, then why do we fail to anticipate Christ’s birth in our hearts which leads to our birth into eternity…everlasting life. This is our hope—this is the heartbeat of our Christian lives. It is this hope that should carry us through the hard times. And yes, it will get hard. It is hard. But here is the paradox: if we labor and toil now – if we die to ourselves – we will live. But if we wish to avoid labor, if we want to “live” by the world’s standards, we will die. First spiritually, and then eternally.

As a community of Orthodox Christians, today, we are preparing ourselves we are preparing our hearts for eternity. This is what we are working towards right now in Great Lent. We are dying to the desires of the world in order to nurture Christ in our hearts. And we know where this path of Great Lent leads us: it leads to the crucifixion of our Lord to the Cross. But know this: our choice to die with Christ upon the cross leads to our resurrection with Him. The promise is clear: “today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Yes, we will toil. We will labor. We will sweat… We will draw blood…

It will be hard. But if we endure to the end, holding on to the hope of the promise, we will see the birth of Christ in our hearts and when we die, we will live. 

Just as Mary now begins the nine months of her pregnancy – nine months of caring for Christ in her womb, we too must begin to nurture Christ in our hearts that he might be born in us, and raise us up with Him.

Perhaps then, when we die, Gabriel will greet us, too, with a heraldic salutation: “Blessed art thou…enter into the rest of your Lord.” 

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