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Reflections by Fr Anthony Crook RAN | Wednesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time Feast – The Birth (Nativity) of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today the Church celebrates the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It celebrates, liturgically, only two other birthdays during the liturgical year: St John the Baptist, and (of course) Jesus.

What is it that we do when celebrate a birthday, when we greet them with the words: Happy Birthday! We celebrate not the achieving of another year of vintage, though for some this is an achievement, nor a step closer to some age-related milestone. What we celebrate is that this person came into being, that by God’s gracious gift, this person stands with us. We rejoice with that person simply because they are.

Today we celebrate the ‘coming into being’ of the one through whom God brings into being in the world (incarnates) Jesus – Emmanuel: God with us! Mary’s humble words of “let it be with me according to you word” (Lk 1:38) begins the unleashing of God’s decisive and full intervention and revelation in the person of Jesus; nothing would be the same.

When we hear the words of the first line of today’s First Reading  - We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28) – from the vantage point of history, and apply them to the life of Mary, we can only wonder at how they came to fruition in her life. How could the young woman who so radically said “yes” to the Angel have known what would lay before her. That she would ask why three wise travellers from afar might visit her and her new-born (Mt 1:10-11), and be amazed at the insight and understanding Jesus would show when chatting to teachers in the Temple (Lk 2:47), that she would be present at his first miracle in Cana (Jn 2:1-11), and sadly and cruelly that she would see her beloved only child beaten and then crucified. And, joyfully, she would stand among others in his presence, and with a mother’s tears exclaim: He lives!

We claim for Mary many titles: Queen of Heaven, Queen of Angels, Mother of the Church, Star of the Sea, but perhaps the one dearest to her heart might be simply be Mother of Jesus (Theotokos). It is perhaps in this title (role) we find her most approachable, either as the sons or daughters of mothers, or as mothers ourselves. And so today we celebrate the birthday of this mother, who by virtue of our baptism mothers us too. We ask that we might have courage similar to her in our own “lowly state” so that we might “rejoice” in “God our saviour” and “enjoy his favour” (Lk 1:48).

Ave Maria!

(Image downloaded from the virgin at prayer - Bing images on 06 September, 2021)