The Ever Blessed

Let no uninitiated hand…

On the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th), Byzantine Christians sing the following hymn (which is known as an irmos):

“Let no uninitiated hand touch the living Ark of God; but let faithful lips, singing without ceasing the words of the angel to the Theotokos, cry aloud in great joy: Rejoice, O Full of Grace the Lord is with you.”

This hymn opens the believer’s eyes to the reality that the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of the Mother of God, the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary. As the ark constructed by the children of Israel held the presence of God in the unique way that would lead to creative expressions in The Raiders of the Lost Ark (which itself hearkens back to accounts from the Old Testament where those who were not supposed to approach the holy ark were struck down for doing so) so too did Mary, the Living Ark of God, bear God’s presence through the Incarnation of Christ God.

God took on humanity in one particular person. This was not a grace bestowed to you, or to me, to Mother Teresa, or to whomever you currently look up to most on earth assuming you have not come to see the special importance of the Ever Blessed Theotokos. But granting that you have spent the time to ponder the awesome mystery of the Annunciation, you will see her as the living Ark of God, and you will follow the angelic witness who cried aloud by saying “Hail, Full of Grace”. You will see her as the one who held Grace Himself, first in her womb, then in her arms, and always in her heart.

Spend some time to think of our world prior to the Incarnation. In the Old Testament God appeared as an angel, in flames of fire and other manifestations that speak to mankind without taking on human nature. At this point which is 9 months before the celebration of the Birth of Christ, human history takes on a new level of intimacy with God. God does not merely speak to us, He becomes us, dwelling among us first in the womb of the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary.

What praise can we render to such a reality? What thanksgiving? What adoration? Nothing that we can compose will exhaust the beauty of this feast. Instead, we must approach in gratitude and love, and thank God for dwelling among us to save us.

It all began with the Annunciation. Thankfully, it will never leave us. We have a New and Living Ark of God who bore God Himself, born as an infant babe.

–J. Andrew Deane
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