The culture of our time has the custom of celebrating birthdays and that is the important date defining our basic identity.
This date is found in the documents such as ID card or passport and the age of our growth and education, job promotions or finally retirement is calculated from that date.
Besides the date of the birth, we also have the record of the gender, as well as the place of birth, another component that marks our identity.
Birthdays are also the opportunity to recall the family background, our cousins and our ancestors. At the same time, we use this day to express our desires concerning the future, projects or even our wishes. Silver, golden, diamond and platinum jubilees on this earth become, therefore, the important dates.
Let us also hear the words of our Lord Jesus who says about the woman: "When a woman in is in labour, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child her been born into the world."
How great must have been the joy of Joachim and Anna, when after so many years of the expectation, they have received the birth of their Daughter, who never stopped being their joy.
Today, however, we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What do we know about this event? We do not know the exact calendar date of this event, just as we do not know the exact date when Christ was born, but this feast has been celebrated on September 8, ever since the first centuries of the Christianity.
Where was Mary born? This is the other question we can raise. The Jerusalem tale points to the concrete place: not far from the temple in those days, close to the Bethesda Pool, near the Sheep Gate.
It was there later on where Jesus, Son of Mary, healed many who were sick, lame and crippled; in the vicinity of that pool was also the house of Joachim and Anna, as the tale records.
Today, we have the basilica of St. Anna there in the simple and very beautiful Romanesque architecture, and underground there is equally beautiful and bright cave of the Nativity of the Mother of God.
According to the same tales, when Mary was only few years old, her parents presented her in the Temple of the Lord, so she would serve to God there. As she climbed the steps of the temple, she did not look back at all and all who witnessed to that event were greatly surprised by that.
Dear parishioners and pilgrims,
"Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from you arose the glorious Sun of Justice, Christ our God.” This is the Byzantium antiphon, and today’s entrance antiphon is very similar: “Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.”
Brothers and sisters,
It is never possible to overpraise such a great event! This is also another mystery of our faith. The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary preceded her Nativity, something understood in twofold way.
Conceived from her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anna, in the human nature as their biological child, the most beautiful flower of the human kind, the Fruit of many generations, as the Gospels described it.
At the same time, her conception was Immaculate too, the creating intervention of God. Filled with the Holy Spirit from the first moment of her existence, she became the new creature, free from every sin and evil. God has carved into her soul his own image and likeness, not to be overshadowed by anything, He has created the masterpiece of goodness and the beauty, the peak of all of the creation.
St. Andrew of Crete said: “The Nativity of the Theotokos and its purpose and end, the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles! The Virgin is born, She grows and is raised up and prepares Herself to be the Mother of the All-Sovereign God of the ages.”
New Eve was conceived and born, Mother of all faithful. Her birth was royal: she came to the world as the princess, destined to reign. She was assumed into Heaven in body and in soul, crowned as the Queen of Heaven and Earth and all creation.
She is the Queen of people and of angels and Mother of Jesus Christ. She is not only our godmother at the baptism, but she is the authentic witness of our Confirmation and the First Holy Communion.
Since she is full of grace from the very beginning, she prays for us Holy Spirit whom we receive in the sacraments of the Christian initiation and therefore take the Body and Blood of Jesus, who comes from Her.
What do we bring her as the birthday gift, as the gift of the grateful heart? First, we bring her the obligation to respect the fourth commandment of God: Honour your father and your mother. Mary honoured her parents and she was obedient to them. (There are some paintings showing how St. Anna taught her to read) She was obedient in the same way Jesus was obedient to her and to St. Joseph later on.
We bring her our great desire of listening to Her voice and following Her instructions: to pray together, to open hearts to God’s calling and to fill ourselves and our environments with peace.
May her title, the Queen of Peace, be for us a guideline and a model in the world of conflicts and divisions! Queen of Peace, pray for us! Amen. (photos)