On Tuesday, the Church celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is one of only three births celebrated in the liturgical year – the other two being the births of Jesus and John the Baptist, at both of which the Blessed Virgin Mary is present. The Birth of Mary is the birth of a new light into the world, a new holiness, which shines forth in the radiant humility and joy of the daughter of Zion.
It is reported in the extra-biblical literature about the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was so marvelously full of life and joy that everyone wanted to be around her all the time. According to the mystics, anyone who came into contact with her was filled with an inexpressible delight and immediately began to smile and feel deep serenity. Her personality and presence were like a cool breeze on a bright day filled with the aroma of new flowers, the air fresh and clean from recently fallen rain. She was springtime itself from the earliest age, such that when the time came for her marriage she had many suitors (and the one chosen for her miraculously by Almighty God was the only one humble enough to consider himself unworthy of her).
This is the holiness that is born into the world from the womb of St. Anne on September 8. All creation rejoices to see this sacred harbinger of salvation. Finally, God has found His holy dwelling place, the true Ark of the Covenant, the one pure and holy enough for Him to find His abode. Mary, whose conception we celebrated on December 8, comes forth from her elderly mother on September 8, presenting this original holiness of hers to the whole world.
The primary characteristic of our Blessed Mother is humility. Every movement of her intellect and will breathed forth a total dependence on God and a total obedience to Him. Her immense faith and burning charity were built on the foundation of her perfect humility. This humility is fittingly witnessed in the darkness which shrouds her holy birth. Nothing of it is reported in the Sacred Scriptures and even Jesus’s genealogies are traced through St. Joseph. All we know of her birth from Scripture is that she is of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, and perhaps also that she is additionally of the tribe of Levi of the house of Aaron. This silence and hiddenness about her birth is a lesson for us to seek the hidden life – “to love to be unknown” in the words of The Imitation of Christ.
Mary is our teacher of humility especially in helping us in purity of intention. If every action of our lives is only for God’s glory, then we needn’t worry about others seeing how great we are or thinking how successful we are. God is the only one we need to please. Mary teaches us this. It can be difficult – deeply painful – at times to live in such a hidden way. Our Blessed Mother is always with us, teaching us the path of humility, which keeps us safe for salvation. Let us rejoice today at her birth! She is born to be our Mother!
Fr. Joseph Previtali