September 8, 2023 –
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Micah 5:1-4 [or Romans 8:28-30] + Matthew 1:1-16,18-23 [or Mt 1:18:23]
“She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus ….”
As the Church today celebrates the nativity of Mary, we reflect on human nature. In the great universities of the Church, this is the study of theological anthropology: that is, the study of man vis-à-vis God who is man’s Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. God in Himself—as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—had no need whatsoever to create man. Nor did He have need to care for fallen man.
But God chose, and still chooses, to redeem and sanctify individuals. He does this through Christ Jesus, who entered our world through the life of Mary. In the field of theological anthropology, Jesus and Mary stand at the head of our prayer, reflection, and study: Jesus as a divine Person who took on a human nature, and the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect human creature.
Today we hear in the Gospel about the family tree of Jesus. There were some great figures in Jesus’ family tree, such as King David. But most of the people in Jesus’ family were very ordinary. Maybe the most ordinary was Mary.
That might seem strange to say, because we might want to say that Mary was the most extraordinary. Of course, Mary was the most holy of Jesus’ ancestors: she was the only person to come before Jesus who had never sinned. But still, at the same time, Mary was really the most ordinary person to come before Jesus.
If you were to walk down a busy street in a large city, and Mary walked by you, you probably would never recognize her. That’s because Mary lived out the Gospel so fully. She lived out the Gospel even before Jesus became a human being. It’s because Mary lived out the Gospel so completely that Jesus became a human being. But living out the Gospel is really very simple, very quiet, and very ordinary. It doesn’t mean being famous, or looking for attention from others, or wanting to be better than those around you.
For me to live the Gospel means living like Mary: listening for God’s voice every day, letting his Will for my life sink into my heart, and carrying out that will with the love of my own human heart.
The Birth of the Virgin by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)