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Treasures of the Fathers: Second Sunday of Kiahk (The Annunciation)

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Rejoice, Highly Favored One

Set before you the blessed Mary, whose surpassing purity made her meet to be the mother of the Lord. When the angel Gabriel came down to her, in the form of a man, and said: "Rejoice, highly favored one; the Lord is with you," (Luke 1:28) she was terror-stricken and unable to reply, for she had never been saluted by a man before.

But, on learning who he was, she spoke, and one who had been afraid of a man conversed fearlessly with an angel. Now you, too, may be the Lord’s mother. "Take you a great roll and write in it with a man’s pen Maher-shalal-hash-baz." And when you have gone to the prophetess, and have conceived in the womb, and have brought forth a son, say: "Lord, we have been with child by Your fear, we have been in pain, we have brought forth the spirit of Your salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth." Then shall your Son reply: "Behold my mother and my brethren." And He whose name you have so recently inscribed upon the table of your heart, and have written with a pen upon its renewed surface — He, after He has recovered the spoil from the enemy, and has spoiled principalities and powers, nailing them to His cross — having been miraculously conceived, grows up to manhood; and, as He becomes older, regards you no longer as His mother, but as His bride. To be as the martyrs, or as the apostles, or as Christ, involves a hard struggle, but brings with it a great reward.

+ St. Jerome, Letter 22 (to Lady Eustochium), NPNF, s. 2, v. 6, p. 141.

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