Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mary's birthday

Today, September 8, the Church celebrates the liturgical feast of the birth of Mary.
There are only two other birthdays celebrated in the liturgy: Jesus, of course, and John the Baptist.
Today's Marian feast occurs exactly 9 months after the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on December 8. Naturally, the date was picked to coordinate the two feasts, because we don't know the actual date Mary was born.

The Immaculate Conception highlights her privilege of being conceived without original sin. But her birth can make us feel a little closer to her as a human being. Even though Mary was completely free of all sin, she was born into a sinful world and suffered from the sins of others. Perhaps having no sin herself, she was acutely aware of the evil face of sin in all its forms. It must have been a great suffering for her to see its evidence in the world around her.

But as a loving mother she is always close to us. I recall a homily preached for this feast, in which the priest talked about a difficult and problematic situation he had to deal with. He didn't know what to do to resolve the problem. It happened that while he was praying about it one year on this date, he decided he would just give the whole situation to Mary as a sort of "birthday present." Well, nothing happened for a little while. But then, a few months later on the priest's own birthday, there was a breakthrough and the problem got resolved. It was Mary's birthday present to him.

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