Oxford, 7 April 1984
(beginning is missing)
... has opened itself not only to His grace, not only in obedience to His commandments but to His indwelling presence. In Her we see fulfilled what we expect by faith, and long for in our hearts: the time when God will have conquered all evil, and putting all things into the hands of the Father when God shall be all in all. In Her we see it fulfilled. In the Sacraments of the Church, in which the material substance of this world is returned to God, and is filled not only with grace but with Divine Presence, we see dimly the glory, the splendour to which we are called as humans, and to which the whole world, all things created are appointed. And this is why the Feast of the Annunciation is not only the beginning of the salvation of mankind – it is the beginning of the Age to Come. In the Incarnation God has come into the world – but it was Him; in the Annunciation, and the way in which the Mother of God offered Herself and became the dwelling place of the Living God, the Creator Himself, it is the whole Creation that accepts and starts in a new way.
How wonderful! And what gratitude should we feel to the Mother of God whose acquiescence, an acquiescence that was born of purity of heart, of perfect surrender to God, this acquiescence that made the Incarnation possible, because as Saint Gregory Palamas says, the Incarnation would have been impossible unless the Mother of God had given Her ascent to it. She i s (?) the of salvation. And how wonderful it is to belong to a parish who lives under Her name and the name of this event; but also, what responsibility! Saint John Chrysostome in one of his homilies says that it is in vain that we praise the Saints, offer prayers to them, sing hymns and canticles to them unless we emulate their lives. And this perhaps even more applies to our attitude to the Mother of God: openness to God, surrender to Him in faith, in total hope with a joy of being God’s servant. This is Her vocation; this is also ours. As She brought Christ into the world in the Incarnation, in the actual birth as a son of man of Him Who was the Son of God, so also are we called to bring Christ into this world, to reveal Him, not only in the words of His own holy Gospel, but in a vision of what a human life can be and become when God takes possession of it – or rather: when it is g i v e n to God, so that God can act freely within our frailty and manifest His greatness, His power and His holiness... Our vocation it is to be His presence, and as Saint Iraeneus of Lyon puts it, by being fulfilled as human beings, that is in true communion with God, to be on earth the splendour, the resplendence, the glory of the Living God.
Let us reflect on this; let us try within our strength, but with a l l the strength we possess, with the faith which we have which is so frail but can be renewed day by day by the power of the Spirit – let us try to be faithful to the title of this church, and to be those people through whose life Christ, as a Saviour will be present in a world that perhaps more than ever needs salvation. Amen.