Immersed in Christ: September 8, 2020
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
also, Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
With delight I rejoice in the Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 13)
Why do we celebrate birthdays? Are we expressing congratulations and gratitude to the parents for bringing a new human being into the world? We should, of course, every time we see parents with children. Every child is a gift to the human race.
Or are we mostly celebrating the life itself of the one whose birthday it is—because we see life itself as a good thing, and this particular life as something good and beautiful in the one born? A benefit to all of us who know and love the person we celebrate. By a classic definition of “love”—to want another to “be and be everything they can be” (esse et bene esse) every birthday party just says, “We love you.”
Both of the “first readings” offered for the birthday of Mary focus, however, on God’s intentions for the one born.
Micah 5:1-4 talks about the destiny of the one to be born in Bethlehem: he is “to rule in Israel... stand firm and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD... and his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth.” God has plans for him.
Romans 8:28-30 tells us God has plans for every person born into the world. He wants everyone to “share the image of his Son.” When Paul says, “those whom he foreknew he predestined,” it means that God has had personal knowledge of every one of us since before we were born, and that he “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”1
This is absolutely certain. “Predestined” does not mean God has determined ahead of time what is going to become of us, regardless of our free will. It does mean, however, that when we say “Yes” to his love, it is by his invitation, and included in that invitation is God’s promise that we should be “called, justified and glorified.”
No Christian lives without a call. Mary’s was to bear the blessed “fruit of her womb.” Jesus chose each of us to bear fruit by our life, fruit that “will last.”2
And we will be “sanctified,” “justified” to be able to bear fruit. Mary was “conceived without sin” in order to be Mother of God—so that the “fruit of her womb” would never have been under the power of sin. We are freed of sin by Baptism and promised all we need to fulfill our mission on earth.
We celebrate Mary’s glory today; and in doing it celebrate our own. We too will be “glorified.” God finishes what he begins:. In those he destined to “share the image of his Son,” he will bring Christ to “full stature.”
Mary is the “pattern of the Church in its perfection,” the “mirror of the Church” in which we see our intended selves. In her birthday, we celebrate ours.
Matthew 1:1-23: Every name in Jesus’ family tree had a role in saving the world. So do we all.
Initiative: Make your self-image include: “called, justified, glorified.” Work at it.
1 1 Timothy 2:3-4. 2 John 15:16; 1 Corinthians, ch.12.