The glorious Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God is celebrated on March 25. It was because of Mary’s yes to the Angel Gabriel that Christ was able to come among us in the flesh and lead us from the desert of “sin” to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. On this feast, we celebrate the Incarnation – the conception in Mary’s womb at the announcement of the angel and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.
Like the Gospel narrative of the Evangelist Luke (1:26-38), the Church’s Divine Services and the Icon of the Annunciation is permeated with a deep inner joy. It is the joy of the Old Testament promise being fulfilled through the Incarnation – the coming in the flesh – of the Redeemer of the world: Today is the beginning of our salvation and the revelation of an Eternal Mystery: the Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin and Gabriel announces the Good News of this grace. Therefore, let us join him crying out to the Mother of God: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
The JOY of this Feast is rendered so deeply in the Holy Icon. Gabriel, the Archangel, is depicted in a swift motion: he has just descended from heaven and ‘his look is the look of a diligent servant intent on carrying out the task given him by his Master.’ His legs are wide apart as though he were running. In his left hand, he holds a staff, the symbol of a messenger. His right hand, with a strong movement, is stretched toward the Virgin Mary – he communicates to her the glad tidings from his Master, the Mystery of the Divine Providence.
The Mother of God, the Theotokos, is depicted in this Icon holding yarn in her hands showing her simplicity of life as a woman of her times. In various Icons, she is depicted in different ways: in one Icon, she appears surprised, somewhat afraid; in another, she looks perplexed, expressing prudence, not accepting at once this out of the ordinary greeting; and still in another, she is making a gesture of acceptance and submission to the archangel’s greeting as she utters those words that will open for us the Gates of Heaven: “Let it be done to me according to Your word.”
The Icons emphasize one or another of these moments of the event. However, all express the fundamental meaning of the Annunciation. The message they proclaim is that God’s will is done and a whole new reality is now made known through the servant of God, Mary, the Virgin Mother – our SALVATION has been ushered in.