One of the Great Feasts of the Church, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, typically happens during Lent. It is celebrated at about the equinox—where hours of daylight and of darkness are equal—yet in the springtime, the light is beginning to gain prominence, the Saviour is come and the darkness cannot withstand the onslaught.

The Apostle Luke narrates to us the event.

Our world would find this a very strange event because our world has rejected belief in angels and the spiritual world. Indeed, many who call themselves Christian have rejected them—”Angels are fine for moral stories, fairytales on the level of Aesop’s Fables,” they tell themselves, “but have no place in our modern understanding.” They may have reasoned: “We will be ridiculed if we believe in angels.”

But this is not the view presented in the Bible. If the Resurrection is true, if we believe that though we die we will rise again, then angels must be true. God in his mercy set angels over Creation to govern each aspect, to lead us to the Truth. But humanity, when they encountered these spiritual beings, offered them worship rather than worshipping the Creator; the nations of the Earth rejected the Creator for the sake of worshipping created beings. We know of some of these events from antiquity, written from the perspective of the “victor”—for example, the overthrow of Cronus where one of the sons of God, Zeus, usurped his father’s place.

Yet God, in his love for us, did not forsake us: he was able to find one who would offer worship to God and not to creatures, Abraham. And from Abraham came Isaac, and from Isaac Jacob, and from Jacob came the Twelve Patriarchs and a new nation who was called to remain faithful. And out of this new nation came one who could say in all purity and holiness to the Archangel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

My dear brothers and sisters, the Theotokos was not shocked to see an angel before her: she knew of their existence and of the existence of demons also. And by her word the Word became human that we might become divine. Pray that we too may be aware of angels and demons that we may ask the prayers of the former and contend against the latter.