I hope you all had a good summer. I am one of the few happy to say goodbye to summer. If you know me then you know that I am not a fan of the summer months. I am pleased to welcome the autumn—my favorite time of the year. Summer days wind down around Labor Day this week, followed by the birthday of the Mother of God. I hope you will celebrate the day on Tuesday.
Mother Teresa very succinctly said: “No Mary, no Jesus.” Quite correct! What if Mary had said “no” to the Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation request to bring forth the Savior?
No Incarnation at Christmas, no redemption at Easter Resurrection. It all hinged upon her response.
And so September 8 is the day in which Saint Anne gave birth to the sinless Mary who would one day bring forth the only Son of God. Pope Benedict XVI wrote “her soul was the place from which God was able to gain access into humanity.” Mary becomes then the very bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The anticipation of the Old Testament for the Messiah was now fulfilled in Christ. This great feast day has been celebrated in the church ever since the 7th century, when St. Andrew wrote “this is the day that the Creator of the world constructed His temple.” Such beautiful imagery: Mary is the temple, built by the Creator, in which the Creator would dwell.
There are only 2 saints whose birthdays the church celebrates: Mary and John the Baptist. Usually the saint’s feast day is on the day the saint entered into heaven at death. But the church celebrates the nativity of John and the nativity of Mary because of the unique role that each of these played in salvation. Both John the Baptist and Mary’s roles were directly essential to bring forth the Lord into the world. John was to announce and herald the one given to us by Mary herself.
“No Mary, no Jesus.” Those 4 words pretty much sum up the importance of this great feast day. The 12th century Cistercian abbot St. Bernard wrote that “Mary is the most perfect thing that God created. She is what we were supposed to have been.” And so, the church celebrates the birth of the one from whom would spring forth the Savior of the world.
Fr. Gerard Gordon