“Today is the beginning of our salvation…” — Apolytikion of the Annunciation

Beloved in the Lord,

Just a few days before we complete our Lenten journey this year we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation. The Good News that the Savior shall be born of Mary cannot be overlooked, and even though it is still Great Lent, we shall joyously celebrate this feast of freedom.

The Apolytikion of the Feast reminds us that our salvation, our liberation from the power of death and all that “death” symbolizes, begins with the proclamation that God becomes man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Son of the Most High God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, becomes one of us by taking on human flesh, in order to rescue us from our fallen condition. That the Feast falls so close to the beginning of Holy Week this year should remind us that the liberation that the Lord brings to humanity and indeed all creation is ultimately through His glorious Resurrection.

The Feast of the Annunciation is always a double celebration for our community because on this day in 1821 the Greek people proclaimed their liberation from the oppression of the Ottoman yoke. On this day, one hundred eighty-nine years ago, our ancestors began a struggle that led to the creation of the modern Greek State. Singing the songs and retelling the stories from those historic days need not become an act that only a segment of our community finds meaningful. While perhaps just some of us are the descendants of that struggle, all of us can share in the bravery and sacrifices that were made for the cause of freedom.

We should not neglect either of these celebrations because they stand before us as reminders of the hopes of people throughout time. The Good News that freedom has come through Christ has too often fallen on deaf ears. World history has been filled with too many stories of oppression, slavery, corruption, injustice, and many other evils of “brother against brother”. Yet oppression and slavery do not seem to be “natural” to us. Our true nature is one of freedom; for our Creator is free and as His children we share His attributes. Thus, even under the most oppressive circumstances, men and women have placed their lives at great risk for liberty.

This year, as you celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation and participate in the many local celebrations of Greek Independence Day, turn to the Lord in prayer and thank Him for the gift of freedom, remember the bravery of those who have risked or given their lives for it, and ask Him for strength and inspiration to support those who still hope for the day of their liberation.

With Love in the Lord,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco