Third Sunday of Lent. Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God

On April 7th the Church celebrates feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God. This year it fell on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. On that day priest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.
Following the Gospel reading Fr. Igor preached a homily. He pointed out that the two lessons from the Gospel appointed for this double celebration sound different. One reading is telling about the Annunciation, bringing a good news to the Blessed Virgin Mary that She is going to be the Mother of the Savior, and that the world will be saved. Another reading is telling us about the need to bear the cross. It seems like we have good and bad news. How can we reconcile them?
Fr. Igor said,
“Let us take a look at the Cross. It has to lines, vertical and horizontal. The vertical line means that God wishes us to ascend into heaven and He Himself for that reason descended to the earth. He became Man, He suffered for our salvation, He died on the Cross, He was buried and He even descended into hell. All for our salvation, for our ascension into heaven. There is also a horizontal line of the cross. It means that we have to follow Christ in our lives. We have to take up our cross. We have to adhere to His words, to His teaching, to be faithful to Him. That will make us able to ascend into heaven. The cross is a sign of our cooperation with God.”
“So, the bad news about our cross is not so bad. It is actually good. Because after the sufferings of the cross always comes a victory of the Resurrection.”
“On the other hand, what is going to happen if we will not wish to accept this news of today’s second Gospel and will not take up the cross? If we refuse to suffer for Christ…. Then we would suffer anyway.
Look at the people who do not wish to be good Christians, true believers, who live in sin and are not ashamed of that. Are they happy? Are they blessed? They suffer from different kinds of problems and illnesses. And at the end they risk to be condemned to the eternal suffering in hell.
The Rector continued, “But let us not look at those miserable souls. Let us look at our today’s celebrated Person, so dear to every Christian! Let us look at the Most Holy Theotokos. She also accepted Her own cross. She said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to Me according to your word.” (Lk. 1, 38). It was a sacrifice to serve the Lord, to be His Mother. It was an enormous cross… And She was not ashamed of the word of the Lord.”
“But in accepting this cross of sacrifice, the Mother of God also accepted the approaching Cross of Victory of Her Son.”
At the end of the service the priest came out to the middle of the church to sing a glorification to the feast and to venerate the cross.
Following the Liturgy parishioners enjoyed coffee and refreshments.