Mi 5:1-4a or Rm 8:28-30; Mt 1:1-16,18-23
Sing of a girl in the ripening fields….
The birth of a child is always a moment of joy because a baby is a promise to be fulfilled, an unwritten book to be completed, an unsung music to be given expression to, a dream to be realized, rich potential to be actualized. That is why when a child is born whether it is in the mansions of the rich or the hovels of the poor there is always laughter and song, celebration and festivity. And so we approach the feast of Our Lady’s birth with same mood of joy and cheer, singing and dancing, celebrating and feasting. For this is not an ordinary child. This is a child of destiny. This is a child specially chosen by the Almighty for a central role in the plan of salvation. This is a child who will grow up in God’s grace and become a young lady to whom Angel Gabriel will come with a message and a mission. This is a child chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of our Saviour, the Word Incarnate, Lord Jesus Christ. This is a child preserved by Providence from all stain of sin right from the first moment of her conception. Therefore our celebration today is not just an ordinary birthday celebration but it is the celebration of our being saved from the powers of the evil one. It is a celebration of our redemption.
There is another dimension to our celebration today, and, that is the fact that we are observing today, the birth of our Heavenly Mother. Mother’s Day is an occasion to remember all that we owe our Divine Mother. It is a day we raise our hearts to our Blessed Mother in praise and thanksgiving for all the gifts and graces we have received through her intercession. It is a day to remember with gratitude the central role she has played in our faith and trust in her maternal intercession and protection. It is a day to let ourselves be caught up and totally lost in tender filial devotion. Among some sections of the People of God in India this feast is celebrated as Our Lady of Health. Pilgrims throng in their thousands to the shrines like Velankani and elsewhere to shower their love, affection and gratitude on Mother Mary for favours received and to plead with her to intercede for them with her Divine Son.
In some other places to-day’s feast is an occasion for family re-union. The dispersed members of families flock to their homes to bask once again in the love and warmth of their parents, celebrating their mutual belongingness, renewing the bonds of affection that bind them and having a lot of fun and frolic in the bargain.
In many regions of India this feast is also a harvest festival when the farmers’ hearts are full of joy and contentment at the glowing scene of golden harvest ripening in their fields – fruits of their labour, produce of their land and gift of divine goodness. They bring their first fruits to the church on the feast of Mother Mary’s birth and rejoice with the assembled community for the gift of abundant fruitfulness.
There is something poetic and lyrical in today’s feast. More than at any other time in the year, the beauty and abundance of nature is intricately woven in the celebration of this feast, be it in the new ears of rice blessed and distributed, be it the family meal ritually partaken, be it the strewing of flower petals on the statue of Infant Mary accompanied by lilting melodies and tender invocations. And as we honour the Mother of God we also worship Nature’s God, deeply aware of God’s lavish goodness and generosity as well as God’s tenderness and mercy revealed in the person of Mary, the Mother of God.
The figure of Mary that we are called to contemplate today is not only that of a tender infant but also that of a woman of fortitude specially chosen by God to play a crucial role in our salvation history precisely by being very much a part of that tortuous, troubled, traumatized and torn history, as is exemplified by today’s Gospel which is but the Genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ artificially but designedly composed by Mathew to bring out the fact that Mary is well and truly a lily of the valley, growing in the soil full of corruption and decay but herself incorrupt and immaculate, shining bright with all the splendour of God’s good pleasure meriting the title “full of grace” – “our tainted nature’s solitary boast”
Therefore, as we celebrate the feast of Mary, Our Mother, we her sons and daughters would do well to rejoice in her maternal intercession and pray ; “Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help and sought thy intercession was ever left unaided. Therefore O Virgin of Virgins, my mother, to thee I come, before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate despise not my petitions but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.”
Freddie D’ Silva