|John Collier's Annunciation|
If the Angel Gabriel is facing east, Mary is portrayed as reading her lesson or preparing for a test in the morning. The new dawn shines on her and on the Book which she holds firmly in her hands. She is as attentive to the Word as the archangel is to proclaiming her unique blessedness.
I like this painting because it reminds us that God's Word never fails to accomplish God's purpose. Mary was not a random choice. She was of a long line of women descended from the first people to receive the Word that the Woman's Seed would crush the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). For Satan to be defeated, the Woman’s Seed would have to be of God, so Jesus is the Son of God and the fulfillment of the expectation of Abraham's people that the Son of God would be born in human form from their bloodline.
How can this be? Because Abraham's people preserved the bloodline of priests by maintaining a specific kinship pattern in which priests married half-sisters and patrilineal daughters of priests (cousins or nieces). Their expectation of the promised Son of God explains their strict adherence to this marriage pattern, with priests marrying only the daughters of priests (confirmed by DNA studies which have identified the cohen/priest marker). These daughter grew up as chaste women. In Abraham's time they grew up at their father's water shrines because the ancient priests kept sheep for the sacrifice and controlled water systems such as wells to sustain their flocks. This explains why many of the heroes of the Old Testament met their brides at wells or river shrines.
Calling to remembrance our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God.
Related reading: Mary's Priestly Lineage; Mount Mary and the Origins of Life; Peleg: Time of Division; Cousin Brides and the Ruler Sons