AD SENSE

The Nativity of the BVM, September 8




The Nativity of the BVM, September 8
Micah 5:1-4 or Romans 8:28-30 / Matthew 1-16, 18-23

Giving birth to God
Chinua Achebe, the well-known Nigerian author, made an interesting remark in his book ‘The Anthills of the Savanna’. He tells us how in both the Bible and his African traditions, women are blamed for all that went wrong in the world. In our biblical tradition it is the familiar story of Eve. In Achebe’s tradition, women were the reason that God, who once lived very near to his human creation left it. God was so near that the women, who were pounding their millet into flour hit God.
God warned them against this. They would be careful for some time, but they would start to chat again, forget about the divine presence, and hit God again. Finally, God gave up and left. In both cases, Achebe writes, men told these stories. They knew they weren’t true stories and because they felt somewhat guilty about them, they added another story in which they relate that final salvation will come through a woman, different from all other women, who cooperates with God. That is why it is good to consider that every woman is invited by God to be like Mary, cooperating like Mary, to give birth to God in themselves and in the world in which they live.
Joseph Donders in ‘With Hearts on Fire’                                                                                                                                                                

The Church celebrates the birth (or nativity) of three persons in the liturgy: Jesus, John the Baptist and Mary. John the Baptist pointed out Christ as the Lamb of God and prepared the way for Him. Mary conceived Christ, the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit and she brought Christ into the world in the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation (God became man).

We always read about Jesus on the days we honor Mary. It is her child and the Incarnation-God becoming flesh/human in the world; our hope, our salvation, our life; God who makes us human. The Bible, including today's readings, sees Mary in function of her Son; nothing more is said about her in the Gospel: than what illustrates and serves Christ's mission. Her inconspicuous and self-effacing service is very telling about her character and role - and at the same time about our mission: to witness quietly to the pre-eminence of Christ, to serve him, to be open to his salvation, to live for others.
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God works for good with those who love him. A young man from Argentina said recently that he was held six years in prison without benefit of a trial. These six years included periods of torture and solitary confinement. When someone asked him if he were bitter about the suffering and the loss of six years of his young life, he gave a surprise answer. "No! They were not lost. With God's help, they strengthened me and my relationship to God in a most remarkable way." 
How do we treat adversity when it comes into our life— specially when it's caused by another person? "How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest recourse! We go to him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven." George MacDonald

On Our Lady's birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior's mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too. Let us often call upon the Blessed Virgin as "Cause of our joy", one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.

Sources other than the Bible gave the names of Mary's parents as Joachim and Anna and the Church celebrates their memorial on the 26th July.

Also Mary's birth was termed as miraculous because her parents were childless and they prayed for a child and it was God who answered their prayers, and in a way that is more than they can expect. Because God has a special mission for Mary in His wonderful plan of salvation. With her birth, the plan of salvation took on concrete shape towards its fulfilment.

Jesus is the Saviour, and Mary is the one who mothered the Saviour; Jesus is the fullness of the expression of God's love and in Mary, that love was made flesh. We rejoice with Mary as the Church celebrates her birth. And yet Mary would also want us to join her to give thanks and pray for the salvation of the world. Just as she gave birth to Jesus our Saviour, every birth of a child is God's love made flesh and the promise of salvation is renewed.

And as Mary's children, let us join her to pray for the world's conversion and salvation.
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Whenever we think of birthday cakes, we would think of a cake with lighted candles, or at least one candle, and the person celebrating the birthday would make a wish and then blow off the candles. The meaning of lighted candles placed on the cake is to symbolize the "light of life" and to celebrate that person's life. As with the blowing off the candles, many ancient cultures believed that smoke carried their prayers to the heavens. Today’s tradition of making wishes before blowing out the birthday candles may have started with that belief. Today as we join the Church to celebrate the birth of Our Lady, there may be no birthday cakes to cut or candles to blow off. But the purpose of celebrating Mary's birthday is essentially to thank God for fulfilling the promise of salvation through her. As the prophet Micah says in the prophecy "The Lord is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth. Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel". Also, the angel of the Lord in the gospel of Matthew has this to say to Joseph: Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.

So as we honour Mary and give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus through her, we offer ourselves to Mary like lighted candles on a birthday cake because she has given us Jesus, the Light of Life.

And may the smoke of our prayers also rise up to God with the prayers of Mary as we heed her call to us to do whatever Jesus tells us and pray and work for the salvation of all peoples.
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Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

ANGELS OF GOD

Introduction
The Bible, including today's readings, sees Mary in function of her Son; nothing more is said about her in the Gospel: than what illustrates and serves Christ's mission. Her inconspicuous and self-effacing service is very telling about her character and role - and at the same time about our mission: to witness quietly to the pre-eminence of Christ, to serve him, to be open to his salvation, to live for others.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
we thank you today for giving us Mary
as the Mother of your Son.
In her you show us how strong your grace is
and how surprisingly near you are to people.
Give us a firm faith
in the great things you do for all of us
and help us to respond to your gifts
with joyful and receptive hearts.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Commentary
We always read about Jesus on the days we honor Mary. It is her child and the Incarnation-God becoming flesh/human in the world; our hope, our salvation, our life; God who makes us human. The child is born in Bethlehem-a place of no consequence but will bring forth a shepherd in the strength of God who shall reach the ends of the earth and shall be peace.
All things work together for God. God's Son is the first born of many brothers and sisters-we are all given birth in Jesus and given to God. Mary was given birth (by her parents like all of us) but it was her child, the Son of the Father, who gave birth to her in the power of the Spirit, giving her back to the Father, as each of us is given over to God. We are all called to give birth to the Word in our flesh and to celebrate our birthdays-born in the world, born into Christ, hidden in God in our baptisms, and born into the Body of Christ, the Church. Happy Birthday to Mary and to us all.

Alternative
Of course there is nothing in the gospels about the birth of Mary. But it’s interesting that the text used for this feast is an account of the birth of Jesus.
In a sense, when a child is born a mother is born. When a child is born, its mother begins to be a mother. Even if she was already mother to other children this new child makes her a new mother; a new chapter in her mothering begins. In the birth of the Son of God, Mary begins to be the Mother of God.
Icons of the “Theotokos” (Greek for “God-bearer”) are common now in the West. Historically the term had great importance because the Nestorians, who effectively said that Christ was two persons—a divine and a human—were opposed to its use, claiming that it neglected the humanity of Christ. The Council of Ephesus (431) asserted against the Nestorians that Mary was truly the “Theotokos,” the God-bearer, or Mother of God: this was a clear way of stating the unity of Christ. The Council of Chalcedon (451) continued the use of this term, and it has become orthodox Christian teaching. Note that it is more a statement about Christ than about Mary—or rather, equally so. When a Child is born, a Mother is born.

Intercessions
- For the world with all its needs, that Mary may watch over it and pray for it, keep people from warring with one another and from making one another suffer, we pray:
- For people in lowly jobs, that they may learn from our humble mother that God values all work done with love and care, we pray:
- For all of us united here, that our faith in Jesus Christ may produce in us, as in Mary, fruits of genuine love for one another, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, you satisfy the hungry
with the bread of life
and you quench the thirsty
with the abundance of your Son's wine.
May these gifts be the signs
that we too are willing to share the riches
of your salvation and of the good things of life
with those who hunger and thirst
for bread, justice and love.
May all people thus know
that you are attentive to our needs,
through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
however weak and wavering
our faith may be,
we believe and we pray
that you may supply us
with the strength we lack.
Do in us and through us
the great things you wish to accomplish.
Like Mary, may we serve your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord for ever.

Blessing
No wonder that we are so attached to Mary. She gave us Jesus, stood by him all her life, and at his death became our mother too. May we too stand by Jesus' side in all our life and death, and may God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.