Homilette for Monday, September 8, 2008

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Once, a woman about to complete her sixty-fourth year said that she did not want to celebrate her birthday. “Why?” we might have asked. She would have answered that she did not want to grow older. Although the woman is really a fine person, she still exhibits a little vanity. She sees growing old as a fault of which there is no need to remember, much less to remind others.

The root difficulty is that many think a birthday is all about the person who was born on that day. Sure, we focus on the person by bringing gifts and greetings that suggest her or his significance. But a birthday has a grander purpose. It makes room for recognition of all the blessings bestowed on the focus person. It calls to celebration the person’s family and friends who helped make the person what she or he is. Most of all, a birthday gives the person special opportunity to thank God for the gift of life. An elderly person, therefore, should celebrate all the more since she or he has accumulated many reasons to thank God.

Today we celebrate the Birth of Mary. She would be the first to deflect attention from herself to others. In Luke’s gospel, after her kinswoman Elizabeth calls her “blessed,” Mary acknowledges to whom praise is really due. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...” she says in perfect candor. As participants in Mary’s celebration today we both thank God for accomplishing our salvation through Mary’s motherhood and thank Mary for accepting God’s grace so selflessly.