The Holy Virgin Mary in the Syrian Orthodox Church - Part IV
His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
The custom of the day usually required an interval of one year of betrothal before consummating marriage union. It was during this interval that the angel of the lord, Gabriel was sent unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to Mary who was espoused to Joseph. The angel saluted her and annunciated the divine conception saying:
"Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women
thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" And the angel answered and said unto her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God". And Mary said in humility: "behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word". (Luke 1: 26-38). The moment Mary yielded to God's Command, the Holy Ghost came upon her absolving her of sin and sanctifying her (Luke 1:35). Divinity dwelt in her womb and of her blood a full man was created initiating, thus the mystery of Divine Incarnation without the seed of a man "before they came together"(Matt 1:18).
The Lord had the complete human nature of his mother, that is a real body with articulate human soul (Luke 23:46 Matt 26:38), resembling us, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
So the holy thing which shall be born of the virgin shall be called Holy and the Son of God. (Luke 1:35).
The event of Annunciation of Divine Conception marks the beginning of the two mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption. In honor of the Holy Virgin Mary Syrian Church Fathers instituted that the faithful read the angel's salutation at the end of daily offices morning and evening, and even at the end of individual prayers at their will.
The Magnificent reads:
"Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. Blessed is he, who is conceived in your womb, Holy Mary, the Mother of God. May you pray for us, we the sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen".
In reference to Annunciation, the prayer said on Tuesday reads:
"Gabriel flew with spiritual wings. He hailed Mary and conveyed the salutation forwarded to her saying, hail be to you, the Lord is with you, The savior of the universe shall shine forth from you
your virginity astounded Gabriel, oh Mother of God. He folded his hands and prostrated in adoration before you and hailed you because he beheld His Lord dwelling in your womb. You were equal to the chariot carrying the bearer of mankind."
The prayer of the third hour said on Wednesday includes the following lines of poetry by Jacob of Serugh:
"With amazement and wonder I speak of the great status the daughter of mankind has attained. Was it the grace that made the son of the highest descend onto her, or was it she who desired to be the mother of her only son? It is clear that God descended to earth by Grace. Mary, who was so godly, yielded and he beheld her humbleness and innocence and dwelled in her, for it pleases the Holy to dwell in those who are humble
"Only in the humble and innocent I dwell". He saw that she was the humblest of mankind, those who are born to women. None has ever been more humble than Mary. Neither has anyone ever been more exalted than her. Glory be to the Father, who chose her for her humility and adoration be to the son who descended in humility (from high) and dwelled in her. Thanks are due to the (Holy) Spirit who is pleased to dwell in humble ones. Glory be to the one nature of the Trinity
May you, oh, Son of God, through the prayer of Mary, who bore you nine months, keep wrath away from us".
To be continued....