Saturday, September 08, 2007

Notes on the Nativity of the Theotokos.

By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin,
Joachim and Anna were freed from barrenness;
Adam and Eve, from the corruption of sin and death.
And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin,
celebrate and sing to you:
The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos,
the nourisher of our life!

Today the Church in both the East and the West celebrates the birth of Mary of Nazareth, a humble woman chosen by God the Father to become the mother of His son. Recalling Mary's birth, we celebrate a doubly joyful event. As the Festal Kontakion quoted above reminds us, the birth of Mary brought joy to an elderly couple that had no other children. For Joachim and Anna, the birth of their daughter and only child was a miraculous sign of God's providence. At Mary's birth, Joachim and Anna likely felt the same kind of joy that Abraham and Sarah would have felt at the birth of Isaac, and which Zachariah and Elizabeth would feel at the birth of John the Baptist. The birth of Mary is a joyful occasion for us, too, as the Festal Kontakion likewise reminds us. Mary, "the nourisher of our life," played a unique role in salvation history. The great event of Mary's birth anticipated and made possible an even greater event, the birth of her Son. In becoming human, God entered into a particular human family - the family of Mary, Joachim, Anna and all their ancestors. In celebrating Mary's birth, we celebrate the great mystery of our salvation. AMDG.


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