Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Mi 5:1-4 / Mt 1:1-16. 18-23)
Everything that exists exists for a reason. And every thing that comes to existence, comes to existence also for a reason. Each birth of a person into the world entails a twofold unfolding. The first unfolding is that of a unique story whose main character is that person given birth. The second unfolding is the story of the greater scheme of things—the unfolding of God’s great plan—where the person given birth is continually invited to participate in.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event of the salvation of the world is but the culmination of the story of the life of Jesus Christ. And the story of Jesus would not come to pass if it weren’t for the story of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself.
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Giotto, in the Scrovegni Chapel
Padua, Italy (circa 1305)
When Mary was born, the whole creation groaned in excitement for the imminent restoration of the world.
We know very little about the life of Mary, but what we do know suffices for us to affirm that she played her part well in the unfolding of God’s great plan. Mary knew of the promise of Yahweh that a savior shall be born into the world from the line of David. The whole people of Israel, from one generation to the next, await for the fulfillment of God’s saving promise. Mary knew this both in her mind and in her heart. She trusted that what God has promised, He will fulfill.
The announcement by the Angel Gabriel that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior was the crucial fusion of the twofold unfolding stories. Before the annunciation, Mary thought she was only a spectator in the unfolding drama of salvation. She thought she was just one among the audience looking towards the stage where the plan of God slowly unfolds. Then, that great event happened. The spotlight turned around and spun towards where she was. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on her. The whole creation gazed in surprise and excitement. She was called to step out of the darkness of her audience seat to walk towards the bright and open stage of the whole theatre of life. The Angel Gabriel asked her, “Shall you play a major role in the drama of salvation?” “Are you willing to step out of the dark anonymity of spectator life, and step into the bright but blinding light of being in the center stage; the center stage where everything about you—your life, your dreams, your joy and pain—shall be under the watchful but scrutinizing judgment of everyone?” Mary’s response was a simple yet pregrant “yes”.
Mary was well aware that it would be a miracle for her to conceive child without any relation with a man. Mary was well aware that she would be placed under social stigma when people come to know that she bears a child out of wedlock. Mary was well aware that Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, might reject her. Mary was well aware her own family, relatives and friends may not understand what has happened to her, or perhaps even believe her story of divine visitation by an angel. Her jump from dark anonymity to the blinding light was swift, abrupt, and decisive. But in all these, she believed and trusted in God’s promise. She believed that God has a great plan, and when she came to know that she shall play a crucial role in this great plan, she trusted that God would never fail in his plan—if she gives herself totally to it.
The unfolding of her life and the unfolding of God’s plan beautifully merged in her simple “yes” to God.
As we celebrate her birthday today, are we also, like Mary, willing to give this “yes” in order to join together our personal story and God’s great plan?