The feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary is a feast of the Lord and of the Theotokos*. It is a feast of the Lord because Christ who was conceived in the womb of the Theotokos. It is a feast of the Theotokos because it refers to the person who aided in the conception and Incarnation of the Word of God, that is, the All Holy Virgin Mary.
The Annunciation of the Theotokos is the beginning of all feasts of the Lord. In the dismissal hymn of the feast we sing: “Today is the beginning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery from the ages…” The content of the feast refers to the Archangel Gabriel’s (the angel associated with all events having to do with the Incarnation of Christ) visit to the Virgin Mary (with God’s command) informing her that the time of the Incarnation of the Word of God had arrived, and that she would become His mother (see Luke 1:26-56).
The word “annunciation” [evangelismos] is comprised of two words, good and message, and denotes the good notification, the good announcement. This refers to the information that was given through the Archangel that the Word of God would be incarnated for man’s salvation. Essentially this is the fulfillment of God’s promise, given after the fall of Adam and Eve (see Gen. 3:15), which is called the proto-evangelion (i.e., the first Gospel). For this reason the information of the Incarnation of the Word of God is the greatest notification in history.
The good announcement, the Gospel, the Annunciation, is a correction of the events which occurred at the beginning of man’s creation, in the Paradise of Eden. There, from a woman the fall and its results began; here, from a woman all good things began. Thus, the Virgin Mary is the new Eve. There was the sensorial Paradise; here, the Church. There, Adam; here, Christ. There, Eve; here Mary. There, the snake; here, Gabriel. There, the whispering of the serpent to Eve; here the greeting of the angel to Mary (From a hymn by Joseph Vryenios). In this manner the transgression of Adam and Eve was corrected.
The Archangel Gabriel called the Virgin Mary “full of grace.” He told her: “Rejoice, you who are full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28-29). The Virgin Mary is called “full of grace” and is characterized as “blessed” because God is with her.
The Virgin Mary had the fullness of Grace, from the Grace of her Son, prior to the conception, during the conception and after the conception. Prior to the conception this Grace was perfect, during the conception it was more perfect, and after the conception it was altogether perfect, says Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite. In this manner the Virgin Mary was a virgin in body and a virgin in soul.
The archangel Gabriel told Joseph, the betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos. “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife. “For that which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). The Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ as a human, but the conception was of the Holy Spirit.
The Annunciation of the Theotokos is an annunciation of the human race, an announcement that the Son and Word of God has become incarnate. This universal feast must lead to a personal feast, in a personal annunciation. We must accept the preludes of our salvation, which is the greatest notification in our life. Amen
*Theotokos: The one who gave birth to God (Greek)
Excerpt of a homily by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpaktos