Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today, nine months after the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate Mary’s birthday. Happy Birthday Blessed Mother! When we are children, birthdays are a really big deal, complete with parties, presents, treats at school, and all sorts of expectation and excitement. Once we pass a certain threshold of adulthood, birthdays become less anticipated, and we often wish we could ignore them altogether. This year the Blessed Mother celebrates over two thousand years of earthly and eternal life, but somehow I don’t think she is worried about people knowing her age!
When I think about the Blessed Mother as my role model, what strikes me is her courage, her sense of self, and her total surrender to God’s will. It must have taken extraordinary bravery to become the Mother of God. As a teenage girl in a culture where women had few rights, Mary was sure of her value and her importance. This courage and confidence allowed her to give a complete “yes” to God and become the mother of Jesus.
As we pray through the Gospel today, ask: What about Mary inspires me? What challenges me? How can I be more like her: courageous and joyful in my “yes” to God’s plan?
—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.
“[Mary] was, in all her being, a gift for her Son, has also become a gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, awakening profound trust in those who seek her guidance along the difficult paths of life on the way to their definitive and transcendent destiny. Each one reaches this final goal by fidelity to his or her own vocation; this goal provides meaning and direction for the earthly labours of men and women alike.”
—St. John Paul II, Letter to Women, 1995