Another view on The Annunciation by John Chrysostom

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St. John explains the reason for announcing Christ’s conception to Virgin Mary before it happened. He makes a serious inference about the possible reaction of the Virgin Mary’s reaction. Here is his answer :

“He did it to spare her serious unease and great distress. There was cause for fear, lest she, not knowing the true reason for her pregnancy, imagine that there was something wrong with her and proceed to drown or stab herself rather than endure disgrace.”

John Chrysostom,Homily on Matthew 4, 5; PG 57, 45.

Whether this is true or not, we cannot overlook God’s gentleness and love of mankind because He never violates our freedom. From this lens, we can look at the Annunciation that God wanted Virgin Mary to consent to His will. Thus He was revealing His plan to her. God does the same with us, but were we attentive to his voice?

St. John Chrysostom was educated in the school of Antioch where the emphasis was on Christ’s humanity rather than His divinity. Also, at this time, the term “mother of God” was unknown to the Antiochene school. His main concern was correcting Christian behaviour. Therefore, he does not hesitate to attribute defeats or imperfections to Virgin Mary.

If you are interested in more quotes on Virgin Mary, you can find them in Mary and the Fathers of the Church on Amazon in both in Kindle and paperback formats.


Gambero, L., 1999. Mary and the Fathers of the Church 1st ed. Translated by Buffer, T., San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

2 Comments on “Another view on The Annunciation by John Chrysostom”

  1. It’s true that there are Eastern Fathers who attribute imperfections and perhaps even venial sins to the Virgin Mary in their theological opinions, but there are others who refrain from doing so. For example:
    – “You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother.” – St. Ephraem of Syria, Nisibene Hymns 27:8 (A.D. 361);
    – “A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns.” – St. Theodotus of Ancyra, Homily VI:11(ante A.D. 446);
    – “As he formed her without any stain of her own, so He proceeded from her contracting no stain.” – St. Proclus of Constantinople, Homily 1(ante A.D. 446);
    – “She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay.” – St. Theoteknos of Livias, Panegyric for the Assumption, 5:6 (A.D. 650);
    – “Today humanity, in all the radiance of her immaculate nobility, receives its ancient beauty. The shame of sin had darkened the splendor and attraction of human nature; but when the Mother of the Fair One par excellence is born, this nature regains in her person its ancient privileges and is fashioned according to a perfect model truly worthy of God…. The reform of our nature begins today, and the aged world, subjected to a wholly divine transformation, receives the first fruits of the second creation.” – St. Andrew of Crete, Sermon I, Birth of Mary (A.D. 733).

    1. Thank you, Marian, for your informative reply. I appreciate you took the time to put it together. I even organised each quote in bullet points.
      Agreed, I was baffled when I read St. John’s quote. However, I would not be able to evaluate his view simply because I am not a theologian or a philosopher, and I am not qualified to do so. I am a simple Egyptian Orthodox Christian. As Egyptians, St. Mary has a special place in our hearts. Particularly because Egypt has many archeological locations the Holy family visited during their flight to Egypt. Many of these places are consecrated monasteries or Churches. In addition, many of the Church Fathers, e.g. St. Athanasius or St. Cyril, who advocated for St. Mary’s role came from Alexandria. Today, we still use many of their hymns in our church services. For example,
      “All the heavenly multitudes, declare your blessedness, for you are the Second heaven, upon the earth.
      The door to the East, is the Virgin Mary, the honoured bridal chamber for the pure Bridegroom.
      The Father looked from heaven and found no one like you; he sent His only-begotten, who came and took flesh from you.” (Wednesday Theotokia (1), Holy Psalmody)

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