The Feast of the Annunciation (2014)

In celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, here are a few verses from the poetic homilies of Jacob of Serug (d. 521AD).

In the first hymn, God undertakes a special search of all women to find the perfect woman to be the mother to give flesh to His Son:

Our Lord descending to earth beheld all women; He chose one for himself who among them all was pleasing.  

He searched her and found humility and holiness in her, and limpid impulses and a soul desirous of divinity.  

And a pure heart and every reckoning of perfection, because of this He chose her, the pure and most fair one.  

He descended from this place and dwelt within the glorious one among women, because for her there was not a companion comparable to her in the world.

In the second hymn reference is made to how Mary in listening the to Archangel Gabriel removes from the human ear the lie which Satan planted in Eve’s ear in the Garden (Genesis 3):

See how Eve’s ear inclines and hearkens to the voice of the deceiver when he hisses deceit to her.  

But come and see the Watcher instilling salvation into Mary’s ear and removing the insinuation of the serpent from her and consoling her.” 

In this third hymn, the theme of Mary undoing the misdeed of Eve results in the salvation of the human race.

Indeed, the Holy Spirit came to Mary, to let loose from her the former sentence of Eve and Adam.  

He sanctified her, purified her and made her blessed among women; He freed her from that curse of sufferings on account of Eve, her mother (Gen 3:16).”

In the above hymn and the one that follows there also is an interesting suggestion that already in Mary the Holy Spirit comes upon her and remains!  In Genesis 6:3 God said that as a result of human sin His Spirit would not remain on any human for ever.  This loss of the Holy Spirit by humanity is undone in Jesus Christ.  For John the Forerunner testifies that the very sign by which he will be able to recognize the Lord’s Christ is he will see the Holy Spirit descend AND remain on Him (John 1:29-36).  The Spirit came upon Mary and the Christ was incarnate in her. When the Spirit came upon her, she was restored to a human condition which Eve and Adam had before the Fall.

In that condition where Eve and Adam were placed, before they sinned, He placed her and then descended in her.

 That adoption of sons which our father Adam had, He gave to Mary by the Holy spirit, while dwelling in her.  

As our father generated our mother without marital union, she also generated because she was as Adam before He sinned.

[Jacob of Serug, ON THE MOTHER OF GOD, pp 23, 30, 34, 36]