September 8, 2020 (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, Mary is our mother, and so with joy and gladness let us celebrate this feast which has direct connection with the history of our salvation. This is an important as St Andrew of Crete puts it, “Hence all creation sings with joy, exults, and participates in the joy of this day…This is in fact, the day on which the creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which by a stupendous project a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the creator.”
The celebration of this feast in Rome began in the 7th century, but in Jerusalem, tradition dates it back, to the dedication of the Basilica of St Ann. Though at first celebrated on different dates, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception fixed for the 8th of December, has helped to align the dates. This celebration, is at the heart of the history of our salvation in Christ; not just because of the favour shown to Mary by God, but also because her birth transcends her own person. It is at the meeting point, of the Old and the New Testaments, as it brings to a close the waiting period for the Messiah; and inaugurates a new era of the presence of God, among his people. Lumen Gentium says of her, “Mary, the daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the people of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is ‘the hope and the dawn of the whole world.’ With her… the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established.”(LG.55)
The first reading today (Micah 5:2-5) talks of her who is to bring forth the child who will cause the return of his brethren. Mary is the one to whom the passage refers to as “She who is too give birth.” The alternative reading (Romans 8:28-30) talks of God who conforms those He foreknew, to the image of his Son, that they might be the first born among many brethren.
The Gospel (Matthew 1:1-16.18-23) tells the story of the conception of Jesus by a Virgin betrothed to Joseph, by first giving the genealogy. It concludes by saying this is a fulfilment of the prophesy: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” Mary is that Virgin who became the abode of the Lord’s dwelling on coming into the world—the Ark of the New Covenant. The antiphon to today’s liturgy invites us, “Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of whom was born the Sun of Justice…Her nativity...was the hope and the daybreak of salvation for all.” Let us join in the celebration.
Let us pray: Lord, you gave us Mary as the Mother of all believers. Help us to follow her example of dutiful service to God and neighbour. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.