March 25, nine months before Christmas, we celebrate the Annunciation, when, according to the Gospel, the Virgin Mary conceived the Son of God according to the flesh (Luke 1, 26-38).
Often, this amazing event is depicted with the angel bowing before the Virgin, she whom God chose before the ages to be the Mother of His Incarnate Son.
Today’s picture, however, by the protestant Annie Vallatton, shows the reverse, Mary bowing before the angel. Why? Because, though she is, as Mother of God, ‘more honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim,’ yet she bows in humble submission to the Divine Will.
In Orthodoxy, we laud Mary with all kinds of epithets, but she calls herself but one thing, ‘the handmaid of the Lord,’ literally His slave, he doule tou Kyriou.
Humility is the most necessary of all the virtues, the foundation of the spiritual life. Without it, we will never succeed as Christians. It means being submissive and obedient to God, so that we can become perfect instruments of His Will – and so, as we celebrate this feast, which is all about humility – the humility of the angel, the humility of the Virgin, the humility, ultimately, of Christ – let us strive to perfect this virtue within ourselves, to learn to say with Mary, ‘I am the servant of the Lord,’ His slave, in all things obedient to His Will