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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

SUBORO - THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

The Syrian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March each year. The feast of the Annunciation is related to the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he told her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. After promising for centuries and centuries with prophecies in the Old Testament, the salvation of mankind was "on the way."

For anyone who has not read the story of the Annunciation recently, all you need to do is read Luke 1:26-38. Jesus is God the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity and our Redeemer. God the Father of course is Jesus' father. Jesus needed a mother and Gabriel came to Mary to ask her to be the Mother of God. Of course, Mary was initially startled by Gabriel when he said to Mary, "Shlomo, Peace be unto thee. Our Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women.” [Luke 1.28] Gabriel told Mary that God wanted her to be the mother of His son. Mary was confused as to how this could happen since she was and always stayed a virgin.
Gabriel responded that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her. Mary, full of faith, and filled with the Holy Spirit, said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me." The baby Jesus was conceived and was in Mary's womb from that moment.

The feast of the Annunciation has been celebrated since the 5th century AD. This is one of the most important feasts in the Syrian Orthodox Church, so important that the Holy Liturgy (Qurbono) must be held on this day even if March 25th also happens to be Good Friday! The feast, of course, is celebrated on March 25 (nine months before Christmas). Since it occurs 9 months before the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the Annunciation marks the actual incarnation of Jesus Christ - the moment that Jesus was conceived and that the Son of God became the son of the Virgin.

The festival The festival celebrates two things:

  • God's action in entering the human world as Jesus in order to save humanity
  • Humanity's willing acceptance of God's action in Mary's freely given acceptance of the task of being the Mother of God

The symbolic interval of a full-term pregnancy reminds us of the reality and dignity of life from conception. This date is also observed widely as a day for affirming the protection of unborn children and respecting their civil human rights (i.e. laws against infanticide) and humanitarian progress (governmental provision for the poor).

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