Birth of the Virgin Mary

Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23
Rom 8:28-30 / Ps 13

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)

Happy birthday, dear Mother Mary,
Our model of love and purity;
Your example of obedience be
Our guiding light to eternity.

Today we celebrate the feast of our Blessed Mother Mary’s Nativity. There is no account in the Bible about the birth of Mary or her lineage, only the lineage of Joseph, recounted in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (1-17). We come to know the names of Mary’s parents, Saints Joachim and Anna, in the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, which is not part of the approved canon of Scripture. According to this account, St. Joachim and St. Anna were already beyond the age of child-bearing, but they prayed and fasted that God would grant them a child.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX made a Formal Declaration: “The most holy Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” This doctrine had in fact been defined as early as 431 A.D., when the Council of Ephesus, in countering the heresy of Nestorius, who taught that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ’s human nature only, responded that persons, and not natures, are conceived and born, and that Jesus Christ is a Divine Person. The purpose of this doctrine was, and is, clearly to safeguard the Divinity of Jesus Christ. As such, it is Christ-centered, and not necessarily Mary-centered.


In today’s Gospel, we read that St. Joseph also obeyed the Lord’s command, and took Mary into his home as his wife, but had no intimate relations with her. This is why we honor our Blessed Mother for her purity, as befits the Mother of God. It is in her honor and that of her Son, Jesus Christ, that all the members of the Catholic church heirarchy have taken the vow of chastity.

Although it is not considered a holy day of obligation, we should make this a special day by going to the Eucharistic celebration to thank God for giving us Mary, the Mediatrix of grace. As early as the twelfth century, all Christian nations have been celebrating this day as one of the major feasts of Mary. As Catholics we must give this day the importance it deserves. After all, the birth of Mary is second only in importance to the birth of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord God, the day of our salvation came when the Blessed Virgin gave birth to Your Son. As we celebrate her own birth today, grant us Your grace and Your peace. This we pray through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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