HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE MOTHER OF GOD


           On the 8th of September, the Church celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary.  Is this the day she was born?  We don’t know when she was born.  First, Mary was born under the Jewish calendar, which was overshadowed by the Roman calendar.  Throughout the centuries, the calendars in the East and West have never been synchronized.  For example, the Israeli community works from two calendars, the Jewish calendar and the Julian calendar used in the Western world.  Is it important to know when Mary was born?  No.   Mary’s birth has greater significance in Catholic and Orthodox history.

This commemoration reminds us that Jesus was born into a family.  He was an only child; but the Scriptures mention some of Mary’s relatives and others are inferred.  In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, we’re told that Elizabeth is related to Mary.  This makes Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist relatives of Jesus.

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age,” (Luke 1:36).

On the return trip from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is with neither of them.  They travel three days back to the temple, but here is what Mary says, which is so meaningful to life of Christ.  “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  We know that Joseph was Jesus’ “foster father”, not his biological father.  In this situation, it was not necessary to announce to the world that Joseph was not a genetic father.  Mary does not lie when she says: “father.” Luke tries to drive home that Jesus was an only child, but he was not a child with a mother and no other relatives.  He grew up loving and respecting Joseph as his father. He also had uncles, aunts and cousins on Mary’s side and Joseph’s side of the family, even if these were not related by blood.

Mary was not a figure who floats over trees or makes roses grow where they’ve never grown before. These signs and wonders took place after her assumption to Heaven. The Gospel tells that she was part of a family.  She was conceived by human parents who transmitted to her their genetic map, but God spared her from Original Sin, making her The Immaculate Conception.  She’s not just Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph’s wife.  She is a

All things are possible, if you do whatever he tells you.

mystery.  While she is conceived like any other child, the product of love between a husband (Joachim) and his wife (Anne), she didn’t have the stain of Original Sin before conception.  Nor were the parents able to transmit Original Sin to their daughter, even if they had known what it was and how to transmit it to their offspring.

Apparently, Mary came from a large family, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, and uncles, aunts and cousins.  Let me remind you, that Jesus was an only child, but he grew up surrounded by family.  Being an only child, probably never mattered to him; not because he has his parent’s complete attention, as is usual in a one child family, nor because they were able to provide for him without stress.  Usually, it is easier to provide for one child.

There is one verse in Luke’s Gospel that confuses people.  “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” (Luke 8:20).  Jesus was born into a very real family, often referred to as a clan.  The members of the clan were your brothers and sisters.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalen.” (John Image result for the crucifixion of Jesus19:25).  We know that one Mary was from Magdala.  The first Mary was his mother; but who is this other Mary who was not afraid to be seen at the execution of her Lord?  The third Mary is the wife of Cleophas.  There are two traditions here.  Both point the fact that Jesus and Mary were important parts of their family.

Eusebius of Caesarea citing Hegesippus records that “Cleophas was a brother of Joseph,” which would make this Mary the Blessed Mother’s Sister-in-law.  Jesus’ aunt by marriage and by adoption.

Papias (Apostolic father of the Church, 70-163AD) identifies this “Mary” as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, and thus as the maternal aunt of Jesus.)  If this is correct, she is the mother of James the “Brother” of the Lord”, Simon, Judas (identified as Jude the Apostle), and Joseph (Joses). Some of the apostles were Mary’s nephews and Jesus’ cousins.  These may well be the brothers who were waiting for Jesus.  As we can see, James, “the brother of the Lord”, was not a sibling.  He was a cousin. Luke writes, “Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’”

The nativity of Mary is important because it confirms two Christian beliefs.  The first, Jesus is truly human.  He had a family who was close to him.  When we say the Man-God, we are correct.  He is the Lord of every man and woman who has ever lived and will live.  He was also part of a clan that was closely knitted to each other.

Mary was conceived without Original Sin.  During the Middle Ages, the great philosopher, John Duns Scotus, argued that God could preserve Mary from Original Sin.  It was appropriate that he do so.  So, he did it.  His words were used at the decree of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, “at the first moment of Her conception, Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.,” (Pope Pius IX, 1854).

Through the merits of the cross, Mary was not only the biological mother of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (God), but she was also the spiritual mother of the Body of Christ her son.  At the Annunciation 30 the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, when she questions how is this possible, since she’s still a virgin, “the angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.”’   Mary becomes the mother of the human family of Christ, the apostles and of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

Her nativity is important to us.  The more we understand Jesus human and divine origins, the closer we get to Man-God who is the Lord of Lords.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on September 7, 2018 at 11:06 PM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you Br. JR. Continued prayers for you, your family & community. Pax et Bonum, Arlene F. Rhenos, OFS

  2. Thank you, BR. JR. Continued prayers for you, your family & community. God bless.
    Pax et Bonum,
    Arlene F Rhenos, OFS


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