Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 8, 2008

Readings: Mi 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30/ Mt 1:1-16, 18-23

There is delight every time we speak of birthdays. All over the world, the birthday of someone close to us is a red-letter day, in most cultures. A birthday celebration is an opportunity for others to take delight in the gift of personhood of someone loved. But a birthday also offers the celebrator to take delight in the riches of his or her personhood, including the possibility of celebrating the gift of people who love him or her.
A person’s birth is a day of delight and rejoicing. It is a day full of promise, full of hope, and a guarantee of the best that budding humanity can offer.

The Church’s calendar that commemorates the birth of our Lord on Christmas Day, is one such day par excellence – for reasons that go far beyond what I just wrote above. For Christ’s birth is not just promise. It does not merely bode well for humankind in a vague, simplistic way. It is reality, not a mere promise – the reality of God taking on human flesh and form. Small wonder we call it the mystery of the Incarnation. No wonder, too, that it is the second most solemn feast of the whole liturgical calendar.

But the supreme day of delight and rejoicing for the birth of the Son of God sort of ricochets in favor of the woman who bore him and brought him to the world – Mary, blessed among all women. If Jesus is the Sun, with its searing and brilliant rays, then Mary must share in that utter brightness and brilliance, for she had been chosen to bear him in her body as mother. If Jesus is the wine of gladness, then Mary must be the cup that brings the same cheers to humanity. What is superlative in the Son, is of great impact to the woman who gave birth to the Son. What is to the utmost with regard to Jesus, must be of momentous importance to her whom he called mother.

The birthday of the Son, the Sun of Justice, though of eternal magnitude, has a lot to do with the birthday of her whose cooperation made all that brilliance of the incarnation happen. She is not the Sun, but bathes profusely in the light of the Sun, her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord!

And what is good for the Son is also good for the Mother who brought the same son to the world. Jesus’ birth changed the course of history forever. Mary’s birth signaled that dawn of the coming brilliant sunshine of salvation for a world walking in darkness. The world has seen a great light, but before that light exploded in all its supernatural brilliance, the dawn first had to break forth in the initial flickers of brightness brought about by someone named Mary, the sweetest name of Mary, whose birth signaled the breaking dawn of salvation. She was the first among the redeemed. And her coming to the world, born of Joachim and Anna, in retrospect, signaled the initial rays of what the sinful, suffering, dark-weary world, had, for long, been waiting for.

Today, is indeed, a day of unalloyed joy. For good reason, with delight, we rejoice in the Lord!

Allow me to quote this traditional 17th century hymn that says eloquently what I can only so vaguely express:

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine.
Mary the Wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Cup, Christ the Saving Blood.
Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored.
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.