On this day the church celebrates the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the most celebrated women ever to have lived. That God created Mary, as God creates each one of us, is without doubt; however, the stories pertaining to just how she was created vary.
All seem to agree that Joachim and Anna were old to be parents (like so many of the great biblical parents). God granted a child to them in their old age and this child was Mary. In the Orthodox telling, Joachim and Anna are clearly at a point of desperation when God intervenes. As with Abraham and Sarah before and as will happen to Elizabeth and Zachariah in the future, God begins with angels…
Joachim and Anna are not together when God sends messengers into their grief. We don’t know whether this is because they were both doing their different daily chores or whether they had each sought out solitude in which to cry out to God. Was it painful for them to be together sharing such longing?
God sent an Angel to Joachim in solitude on a mountain, and to Anna in her affliction weeping in her garden, to tell them that the ancient prophecies were soon to be fulfilled in them: a child would be born to them, who was destined to become the veritable Ark of the new Covenant, the divine Ladder, the unburnt Bush, the living Temple where the Word of God would take up his abode. Through the conception of Saint Anna, the barrenness of human nature itself, separated from God by death, has on this day been brought to an end; and by the wondrous birth-giving of her who had remained childless until the age when women can no longer bear fruit, God announced and testified to the more astonishing miracle of the Conception without seed, and of the immaculate coming to birth of Christ within the heart and the womb of the Most Holy Virgin and Mother of God.
“Even though the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place through a miraculous action of God, she was conceived by the union of man and woman in accordance with the laws of our human nature,
On this day, lift before God:
- the newborn.
- all who labour.
- all who devote themselves to God in obedience.
- all older parents.