Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God. Hurray!!! September 8 is her birthday, happy birthday to our loving mother! Yes, “Happy”, not just for her nor because it is her nativity but for us too; blessed (happy) we are, for our salvation has dawn. (cf. Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus 1974). Saint Peter Damian puts it succinctly, “Today is the day when God begins to put his eternal plan into practice, since it was necessary that the house be built, before the King came down to live in it. Beautiful house, because, if Wisdom built a house with seven columns work (Prov. 9:1), this palace of Mary rests on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Solomon celebrated in a very solemn way the inauguration of a stone temple.
How will we celebrate the birth of Mary, temple of the Incarnate Word? On that day, the glory of God descended on the temple of Jerusalem in the form of a cloud, which darkened it. The Lord who makes the sun shine in the heavens, chose dark- ness for his dwelling among us (1 Kings 8.10-12), Solomon said in his prayer to God. This new temple will be filled by the same God, who comes to be the light of the people”. Mary becomes the nuptial chamber where God meets humanity; her birth becomes our hope and the daybreak of salvation for the entire world. Therefore, as we celebrate her birth, we are celebrating our own birth, our regeneration and salvation. This is one feast that both the Eastern and Western churches celebrate on same day – the birth of Mary, the mother of the Lord.
Though, the birth date of Mary may not have been written in the scripture but we could find the event of her birth in the so-called Protoevangelium of James. According to this apocryphal writing, Mary was born in Jerusalem in the house of Joachim and Anne. It is believed that the feast started towards the end of the fifth century in Jerusalem. The feast then extended to Constantinople and was introduced in the West by Pope Sergius I in the 7th century. One may want to ask, why then do we celebrate her birthday on 8 September? As said earlier, this feast began in the East, then, it became so celebrated in Constantinople. In Constantinople, the civil year begins on September 1. And it is understood that Mary’s birth is the “beginning” of the work of salvation of mankind. It therefore brings the message home as they commemorate the feast on the fullness of the new beginning, for “8” symbolizes fullness, new beginning, regeneration, new creation etc.
Truly, her birth ushers in new life; her birth was a beginning of births, of Christ being man (as announced by Prophet Micah) and birth of all men who will follow Him. By honouring the nativity of the Mother of God, we come to the true meaning and purpose of this event, which is the incarnation of the Word. It is for this fact that Mary was born, nursed and raised to be the Mother of God. Likewise, it is the reason why Mary’s “birth into heaven” (as well as St. John the Baptist and of course Christ) is not only celebrated as it happens for other saints, but also the coming into this world. Mary was chosen in a special way to be the handmaid of the Lord and to play an important part in the history of salvation and in the mystery of our redemption. Saint Andrew of Crete will say, “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”.
We thank God for the gift of her and making her life a YES to God and humanity, a blessing to us. Could our life too be of blessing to one another? Our being born into this world is purposeful and thoughtful of God, do we know our purpose? Just as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in his homily when he was installed as pope, he said, “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”. You are important, you are purposeful, discover yourself and be that blessing unto another. What impact do we make on people we encounter? What gift could you possibly give to her? You could attend Mass, give her roses in the praying of the rosary, do charity works in her honour, or even give her cake and share with people after Mass. May she continue to intercede for us all. Amen #IAMPURPOSEFUL Happy feast day