On March 25, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation by archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she should become the mother of Jesus Christ the Son of God, as today is exactly nine months before Christmas!
It is the day Archangel Gabriel announced the Incarnation of Christ, saying to the Theotokos, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (Luke 1:31)Today we commemorate a sacred event when the love and will of God was made known to humankind.
This day and this holy Feast is a day of joy. We sing the exclamation of the Virgin Mary, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! (Luke 1:46-47). We offer thanksgiving and praise to God for His marvelous works and His glorious revelation. Through the message of the Gospel, we affirm that joy greeted the Incarnation of our Lord; joy filled the hearts of the multitudes who received Him in faith and those who found hope; and joy compelled many to go forth to the ends of the world and proclaim the blessed and eternal life that comes through Christ and the Gospel.
Of all the solemn days in Orthodoxy, the day of March 25 is one not only of religious significance but of political significance as well, allowing the Greek Orthodox Church to commemorate God’s message to Mary and the independence of Greece on the same day.
On March 25, Greeks remember how Panagia was chosen from all the women in the world to be the Mother of Jesus Christ. When the angel Gabriel brought the momentous message from God this day, Panagia, Archangel Gabriel also told Panagia not to have any concerns, “Let it be according to the will of God.”
It is this day and the joy and hope of the Feast of the Annunciation that inspired our forbearers to begin their struggle for liberty. After centuries of oppression, the people of Greece could no longer bear the yoke of captivity and the burdens of occupation. In 1821 they found strength in unity, hope in faith, and determination in their goal to be free. They knew that the reestablishment of the Greek nation was the only course toward securing freedom for generations to come. Today we remember their bravery and sacrifice in solemnity and gratitude, affirming that we are the blessed heirs of the independence gained through their struggles.
The celebration of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and of the Incarnation of our Lord, is a celebration of the revelation of God’s love and God’s gift. It is a feast of joy. It is a feast of joy and liberty, as we commemorate our Greek fathers and mothers who offered their lives in order to establish freedom for themselves and for us, their children.
Today is also the name day of Evangelos and Evangelia.