Birthday of Our Lady

Meditation for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 7, 2015

In general, why do we celebrate birthdays? We celebrate the joy of the presence of someone in our lives. We thank God for the gift of that person — that He chose to create that person and allow us the gift of knowing and loving that person. On the liturgical calendar, we celebrate the birthdays of only a few people, namely, our Lord, Our Lady, and St. John the Baptist. We celebrate these birthdays not only because of the reasons mentioned above, but also because their births mark turning points in salvation history. The birth of Our Lady in particular marks the moment that the promised salvation is coming upon the Chosen People.

Such an event may seem only a "relic" of the past to a degree — as something that we celebrate as a feast in the liturgy, but has little relevance for our daily lives. However, when we encounter dark moments in our lives, we often speak of a "light at the end of the tunnel." In salvation history, the birth of Our Lady is the light at the end of the tunnel of the history of humanity. The light in its fullness is Jesus Christ — but the Morning Star, the light that foretells the coming daylight, is Our Lady. She is the dawning of the hope that there is a solution to all that ails us, to all that befalls us. She assures us that the Day of the Lord is coming — even if it seems to us to be delayed.

Or imagine the darkness of winter. Some people suffer from sadness and depression in parts of the world where winter is harsh, with little sunlight. In Poland, for instance, the sun sets around 3:30-4:00 p.m. daily in winter. When the sun truly begins to shine again, one can feel the difference and the joy of living again in the light. At first, there are only a few hours of that light foretelling the coming summer. The birth of our Lady is that light which penetrates the darkness of winter — the darkness of sin — foretelling the coming summer, that is, the coming light of the Son of God.

We celebrate the birth of Our Lady because it marks a turn in salvation history — including our own salvation history. Do we thank God for her presence in our lives? Do we look to her for help and for hope in moments of darkness? Do we seek her, the "light at the end of the tunnel," during our trials?

Furthermore, we must avoid the temptation to consign ourselves to secondary players in salvation history. Indeed, Mary has a singular place in the Church; nevertheless, her birthday incites us to reflect upon the meaning of our own birth and how we celebrate our own birthdays. Do we understand that our birth is also part of God's plan of salvation history? Do we celebrate our birthdays merely in the secular sense as the day we were born? Or do we celebrate our birthdays because they mark yet another initiative of God to bring salvation to His People? Each of us have a mission — an identity — before God, just like Our Lady. On this day, let us thank God for the gift of being born and our mission, our share, in His plan of salvation.