Many Happy Returns - The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A Meditation for the Feast of the Nativity of the B.V.M.
September 8, 2008

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate birthdays – why we give it so much importance in our own lives and in the lives of those we love and cherish? This thought has wrestled in my mind on many an occasion but I did not reflect too deeply on it, let it go by, thinking there were more important topics to consider.

That many topics are important still I believe an answer is worth looking into, especially since we have three birthdays celebrated in the Church Calendar.

The one birthday many people celebrate, some knowingly and some unknowingly, is that of Jesus. Presents are bought and exchanged with family members, friends and even passing acquaintances. Why such a ritual? What does it gain and what does it really mean? Like any occasion, an expression of belonging and caring is vital and very encouraging. The existence of a person is acknowledged, even if for one day or even an hour, the value of life is extolled, affirmed and sometimes rebuilt - a kind of salvation- and in the case of Jesus the hope of immortality assured. But why do we celebrate the Nativity of Mary, why is it that only Jesus, Mary and St. John the Baptist have their birthdays remembered in the Church?

My reflection lead me to these points I wish to share with you. God made a promise to our first parents – we have touched on this in previous considerations – He never breaks a promise, though many think He does and many consider believing in God a futile exercise. However, this promise is very important because it restores mankind to its original innocence - if it is accepted and cooperated with – we live in grace, know one another in the light of grace and assist one another because of grace. This return is what the life of Jesus has done for us - free persons of this earth. Jesus can be seen this way because we acknowledge His Divinity. But what about Mary? She is simply human, born of Joachim and Ann, lived in Nazareth, spent time in the Temple and married the mysterious man, Joseph of the House of David. Yet time has revealed to us that what God intended for the human race, he first and immediately gave to Mary. She was Full of Grace - filled with God. She walked with God, talked with God and was totally united with Him in mind and heart. Her very essence was purely at one with God – thus revealed to us at Lourdes as the Immaculate Conception.

And what about St. John the Baptist? Well, he certainly experienced the fullness of grace when Mary the Immaculate one came to assist Elizabeth in her six months pregnancy and the voice of Mary's greeting caused the baby in the womb of Elizabeth to leap with joy – the Amazing Grace, so sweet and loving that God plunges into human history with grace unending as He cleanses the baby John the Baptist of Original sin in his mother's womb. Thus these birthdays need to be celebrated, more than they are today. It is these Holy Ones of God - Jesus the Son of the Living God, Mary the daughter of the Eternal Father and the spouse of the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist, who witness the truth that all are invited to live in Sanctifying Grace, united always with God in mind and heart. What a celebration we should have, as we recall and acknowledge that we live in the infinite Mercy of God. No mind, heart or spirit could ever stop rejoicing with songs of praise and thanksgiving so firm and loud that they raise us to new heights of love.

As we look to Mary on her day of birth we also have to thank the deep faith of her parents Joachim and Ann. It is they whom God chose to give that natural birth though He in His great mercy saved this one little one from the effects of original and actual sin – she is truly the purest of all virgins, the glory of all people one and only model for all women - yea - for all human persons. We wish Mary Immaculate many Happy Returns to our hearts for her birthday.