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2012 Encyclical for the Feast of Annunciation

Dearly Beloved,

“Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery!”

From the Apolytikion of the Annunciation

We celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation at a most significant time: March 25, 2012 is a Sunday, the Day of Resurrection. The Good News is doubled! First, Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of Mary, has become incarnate and has dwelled among us. Mary has been told by the angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Savior. God has become accessible to all. For this reason we sing “Alleluia” at our Akathist services. Second, this year we celebrate this Feast on a Sunday, the second source of our Good News, the Day of Resurrection. Jesus Christ has accomplished the purpose of His mission among us: to rescue us from death and restore us because of his love for us. In this double celebration, we experience the eternal mystery of our relationship with God, summed up so profoundly by St. Athanasius the Great:

God becomes human so that we might become God.

In history, the Feast of the Annunciation also became the day of Good News for the Greek people, for it was this day in 1821 that the Greek people began their quest for freedom from oppression. We all know from our childhood education that this journey was not an easy one. When the banner of the Annunciation was raised on March 25, proclaiming the beginning of the Revolution, the Ottomans did not simply leave Greece. A battle began that was waged for years. The announcement of independence was just the first step in a long journey. Our brothers and sisters in the land of many of our forebears have also begun a new journey. Recovering from the current financial and economic crisis will take many years. We must show our solidarity with our relatives and friends.

We can offer them a word of good news: that we support them as they struggle to recover. We can pledge our material support and contributions to the many charities that are feeding the unemployed and the hungry in Greece. Our Archdiocese, with the cooperation of our Metropolis, has established a fund and we encourage you to be generous. We can also offer political support, encouraging our government to offer assistance where it can. We can offer economic support by encouraging investment in Greece once again.

The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of God’s love for our world. But it required Mary’s acceptance and agreement. The course of human history was changed forever with a simple “yes”. Gabriel announced to Mary that the Lord was with her. Despite her amazement and questioning, she replied,

“let it be to me according to your word.”

The proclamation of the Good News continues in our churches. The Lord, my beloved brothers and sisters, is with all of us. Our challenge, our invitation, is to respond as Mary did and say “yes” to God.

To all those who celebrate their Name Days on this glorious Feast, I also extend my paternal wishes for God’s blessings to be showered upon you and your loved ones.

May the Good News fill your hearts and souls with strength and resolve to continue our Lenten journey to the Resurrection.

With Love in Christ,

 

+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco