The angel Gabriel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:35, 38)
Dear Beloved in Christ,
God is with us!
Another day of the pandemic, and the Church offers us this pearl: “Let it be to me according to your word.” This was spoken by the Panagia to the Archangel Gabriel. With these words, the estrangement of mankind from God was healed: In the garden, Adam and Eve separated their will from God’s will by eating of the tree; on the Annunciation, the Most Holy Theotokos aligned her will with God’s will, on behalf of all of mankind, and God then inaugurated His plan for our salvation.
Today we face a frightening situation with the spread of the virus, especially for those who are at higher risk. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty cloud our thoughts. Our Panagia encountered these very same feelings when she was met by the archangel. Her encounter must have been frightening! The archangel even said, “Do not be afraid!”—which is oftentimes the first words out of an angel’s mouth (Matt 1:20, 28:5 Luke 1:13, 2:10 Acts 27:24).
How terrifying for this young teenage girl to have an archangel appear, and then to be told that she would bear the Son of God in her womb! She was deeply troubled by this, and yet she found the courage to say, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
The Panagia spoke on behalf of all mankind. We too unite ourselves to God in the same way when these words become ours. As we face the uncertainty of the present moment, the constantly changing parameters and limitations, the paradigm shift in how we “do Lent,” the Panagia’s words must become ours: “Let it be to me according to your word.”
God is at work in everything around us. He has permitted this present scourge to persist; He has allowed our civil authorities to lead us through this present time; and He has ordained that we should journey through Lent in a different way. While we cannot fathom the “Why” in this situation, we can at least recognize that the one thing needful is to draw near to Him in humility and repentance—the “turning of the mind” (metánia) that is a reunification of our will with God’s.
No greater example do we have of humility and repentance (on behalf of us all) than in the Panagia on Annunciation. Through her intercessions, may we learn to offer her prayer as our own: “Let it be to me according to your word.”