Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Light and Dark

March 25 is an important date on the Christian calendar that most people forget to acknowledge. It is nine months before Christmas Day, thus it is the Feast of the Annunciation and the date of the Incarnation. It is the day that the Creator entered into his own creation. Mary gave her fiat, a virgin became with child, Jesus came as fully God and fully man. We often speak of his birthday as the day he entered the world, but it really took place here, when he entered Mary’s womb.

However, the Feast of the Annunciation was celebrated on April 4 this year, the first day after the Easter Octave. That is because on rare occasions such as this year, the Annunciation takes place on the same day as Good Friday. Incarnation and death, entry and exit, become intertwined. This won’t happen again until 2157, so it’s good to take note of it this year. We often speak of the Incarnation and magical and beautiful: candles and children and cooing and Christmas. But the Incarnation also brought the Passion: betrayal, condemnation, torture, and death. Christ came to serve us and we rejected him. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. It is a message of hope and joy because of what he has done for us, but it is also a message of sorrow and guilt because of what we’ve done to him.

The coincidence of the Annunciation and Good Friday brings it all together. We cannot have one without the other. Our faith cannot be solely feel-good stories of manger scenes, miracles, and resurrection. It also cannot be solely dark threats of sacrifice, wrath, and death. Both are needed to grasp the weight of the Incarnation.

As the traditional troparion says, “Today is the beginning of our salvation!”

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