March 25, 2018
Feast of the Annunciation
Day of Greek Independence
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this blessed and glorious Feast of the Annunciation, we celebrate a miraculous event that affirms with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:37) We gather to worship, as we commemorate the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary announcing the Incarnation of our Lord. We rejoice in the proclamation to the Theotokos, as God reveals His divine plan for our redemption from sin and our salvation from death. We marvel at her faith in Him and obedience to His will.
On this Feast we express our amazement just as we proclaim that through faith all things are possible with God. With the revelation of the power and grace of Almighty God, we wonder as did the Virgin Mary, How shall this be? (Luke 1:34) “How shall He whose throne is heaven and whose footstool is the earth be held in the womb of a woman?” (Hymn of Vespers) The Archangel answers, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. For with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:35, 37)
As it was shown through the faith of the Virgin Mary, all things are possible for those who believe in the revelation and promises of God. Before the Annunciation, she lived in faith, trusting that His promises would be fulfilled. Upon the revelation of the Incarnation, her faith was affirmed and strengthened as she heard the announcement of the Archangel, You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David…and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:32-33)
Today, as we celebrate God’s revelation for our salvation, we also find joy in knowing that all things are possible through our faith in God. He has and continues to reveal Himself to us in great and marvelous ways. Just as He fulfilled His promise of salvation, He continues to fulfill His promises to His people. Through our faith in Him, we are able to accomplish what seems impossible. Through our commitment to God’s will, we are participants in the miraculous, and we move beyond the limits of human ability to the unlimited potential of faith and the power of God. As we live in communion with Him, as we offer a witness of grace to others, and as we worship and serve in His name, we hear and say the words of Christ, All things are possible to him who believes! (Mark 9:23)
In our celebration of this Feast, we also commemorate a victorious struggle for independence that was inspired by faith and strengthened by the acclamation, with God nothing is impossible. Today, Greek Independence Day, honors the valor of our forbearers who longed for liberty and fought for freedom. It is a day that celebrates our cherished heritage and ideals that led the people of Greece to believe they could accomplish the impossible–throw off centuries of oppression and be free. Through faith in God and hope for a better future, the impossible became possible. Through struggle and sacrifice, the people of Greece achieved freedom and the unlimited possibilities of liberty and self-determination.
Today, as we honor their memory, as we cherish liberty in the heritage of Greece and America, and as we are inspired by the faith of our forbearers, may we also give glory and thanksgiving to God for His revelation for our salvation and for the witness of faith offered by the Theotokos. In the liberty we have through Christ and through our faith and the power of God’s grace, the possibilities are unlimited. Through our commitment to His will, lives will be transformed and saved, many will find healing and hope, and the miraculous and abundant blessings of God will be shown through all the world.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America