Fr. Mike’s homily for Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady

Fr. Mike’s homily for Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady

Theme: The birth of Mary

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Wednesday September 8 2021

Mt 1:18-23

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

Today we celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us first look briefly into the background of this feast. The birth of Mary is not mentioned in the Bible. What we know about this comes principally from the ‘Protoevangelium of James’, an apocryphal writing that existed before 200 A.D. This feast is believed to have originated in Jerusalem, and the faithful have celebrated it from the earliest centuries of Christianity.

We may ask: why September 8? One possible answer is that, in the Byzantine calendar, which was in use in those times, the civil year begins on September 1. So, it is meaningful to commemorate the ‘beginning of the work of salvation’ – the birth of the Mother of the Savior – at the start of the new year. This is similar to what we do at present, celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on the first day of the new year. Later on, September 8 became the basis for the date of the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, that is, nine months earlier.

Today, on this Feast of the Birth of Our Lady, the entrance antiphon at Mass invites us: “Let us celebrate with joyful hearts the birth of the Virgin Mary, of whom was born the Sun of Justice, Christ our Lord.”

Every birthday celebration is always an occasion for joyful celebration. But a deeper reason for rejoicing is the fact that her birth is a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah. She is the “dawn of our salvation”, according to Pope Paul VI. She is the one “who brought the dawn of hope and salvation to the world” (Prayer after Communion). Pope St. John Paul II puts this beautifully: “As the dawn before sunrise, Mary is the ‘Morning Star’ who precedes the Savior, the ‘Sun of Justice’, into the history of the human race” (Redemptoris Mater, 3). We, therefore, celebrate Mary’s birthday because her “yes” brought Our Savior into the world.

In addition to rejoicing, this celebration should also lead us to reflect on another important lesson. Human life is an infinitely precious gift from God. Every birthday celebration, then, should inspire us to respect and revere the life of every human being. Add to this the fact that each one is entrusted by the Creator with a specific mission in the world. Hence, the future of every child is mysterious. Only God knows what His plans are for each one. In the case of Mary, for instance, not even her own parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, ever suspected that their daughter is destined for something so great as becoming the Mother of the Savior. Parents are called procreators precisely because they cooperate in God’s work of creation. They cannot and should not interfere with the plan of God for their child.

This is a very important lesson especially during these times. We are shocked at the staggering number of people who died of the corona virus disease. But what we fail to consider is the ultimate horror of abortion. Millions and millions of unborn babies are killed by their own parents. Instead of being procreators, they become murderers. St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is ‘abortion’, because it is a war against the child… A direct killing of the innocent child, ‘murder’ by the mother herself… And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

Today in this celebration, Mary is presented to us as our perfect model and inspiration. The beauty of her soul is due to her being without sin. We, too, can be beautiful like Mary, if we just strive our utmost to overcome sin and selfishness.

What, then, is our birthday gift to Mama Mary? There is actually only one thing that can truly make her happy. And that is to see all of us her children growing in the beauty of grace and holiness as we strive to imitate her humility and obedience to God’s will and thus become radiant tabernacles and heralds of Jesus in the world.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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