Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God: The Gospel Lesson and the Rector’s Homily

The Gospel of Luke, 1, 24-45:

Now after those days Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Now in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a Virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the Angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the Angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the Angel departed from her.

Евангелие от Луки, 1, 24-45:

После сих дней зачала Елисавета и таилась пять месяцев и говорила: так сотворил мне Господь во дни сии, в которые призрел на меня, чтобы снять с меня поношение между людьми. В шестой же месяц послан был Ангел Гавриил от Бога в город Галилейский, называемый Назарет, к Деве, обрученной мужу, именем Иосифу, из дома Давидова; имя же Деве: Мария. Ангел, войдя к Ней, сказал: радуйся, Благодатная! Господь с Тобою; благословенна Ты между женами. Она же, увидев его, смутилась от слов его и размышляла, что́ бы это было за приветствие. И сказал Ей Ангел: не бойся, Мария, ибо Ты обрела благодать у Бога; и вот, зачнешь во чреве, и родишь Сына, и наречешь Ему имя: Иисус. Он будет велик и наречется Сыном Всевышнего, и даст Ему Господь Бог престол Давида, отца Его; и будет царствовать над домом Иакова вовеки, и Царству Его не будет конца. Мария же сказала Ангелу: ка́к будет это, когда Я мужа не знаю? Ангел сказал Ей в ответ: Дух Святой найдет на Тебя, и сила Всевышнего осенит Тебя; посему и рождаемое Святое наречется Сыном Божиим. Вот и Елисавета, родственница Твоя, называемая неплодною, и она зачала сына в старости своей, и ей уже шестой месяц, ибо у Бога не останется бессильным никакое слово. Тогда Мария сказала: се, Раба Господня; да будет Мне по слову твоему. И отошел от Нее Ангел.

Homily of the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, on the Feast of the Annunciation:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate feast of the Annunciation. On this day the Angel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that She had been chosen by God to bring the Savior to the world. We call it in English “Annunciation” because it is announcing of the greatest good news mankind has ever heard: the coming of God into the world, and more specifically, into our lives. It is the announcement of the good news that God is coming to overcome sin and death for us, to make us His own sons and daughters, the heirs of His everlasting Kingdom.
This was really good news brought by Archangel Gabriel. Especially if we compare it with other news we hear in our life. The news is so bad these days that one doesn’t know whether to watch the six’ o’clock news and not be able to eat dinner or to watch the ten’ o’ clock news and not be able to sleep. Presently we hear a lot of them about the outbreak of the disease, the virus. We are intimidated about that illness and about the measures the authorities have taken to prevent its spread. Because of such measures we cannot gather together to celebrate this feast in the church but we have to watch the service on the internet, or to read the priest’s homily on the website as we do in our parish. And some people have no church services at all. Thus, dear brothers and sisters, we have a lot of bad news. Recently, we also started to get a lot of fake news, including shocking fake news about the virus. Bad and fake news overwhelm us. How can we deal with them?
The ancient Greeks killed anyone who brought them bad news. But that is not a solution.  The bad news remains. Or maybe we can deal with bad news as some father of the four children tried? He refused to hear about bad news regarding his kids. He told his wife: “Please, if you don’t have good news about them, say nothing!” His wife then told him once: “I do have good news for you. Three of your four children didn’t break their arms today.”
Our Christian faith doesn’t use such solutions. It does not begin with good news; it begins with acknowledging the bad news that exists in our world and in our lives. Such bad news are not really news. They are as old as our human kind. They began after the fall of man. Such news are sin, death, suffering, despair, loneliness, hopelessness. And good news cannot be good news unless we first have a sense of the bad news of our situation.
It was into the world full of bad news that Christ came to Himself Good News. And the whole life and ministry of our Lord in the world is best described by the Greek word “Evangelion” – the Gospel, which means the good news. The whole teaching of Christ is Good News. Not good advice, but good news; not good views, but good news. This is the Gospel of Christ.
And the book of the Holy Gospel has many stories about people in whose lives our Lord Jesus Christ brought good news. Every Sunday we hear the Gospel lesson, and most of them tell us how our Lord Jesus Christ dealt with bad news turning them into good news! And in every Gospel story we see that when our Lord was coming into someone’s life, He was always bringing good news and making a great difference.
He made difference about many things. First of all, about God. The greatest news about God is that He does not hate us. He loves us. He does not want to punish, but to forgive. God sent His Onlybegotten Son Jesus not to condemn the world but that the world may be saved through Him (Jn. 3, 17).
Jesus also made a difference about death. Death is man’s last and greatest enemy; it comes to put an end to our earthly lives. But in the darkness of death there shines the light of the risen Christ who came back from the grave and said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11, 25).
We all need good news about God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s power for our weakness, God’s Resurrection for our death. It looks like the world especially is in need of such good news now, when many people are in overwhelmed with the news about the virus outbreak, when some people are sick and dying. We especially need the “Annunciation”, the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory, worship and thanksgiving now and unto the ages of ages!