HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE BIRTHDAY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:
Today, we celebrate one of the three earthly birthdays in the liturgical calendar – the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though there is no scriptural account of her birth, the Church has celebrated her birth since the sixth century. Tradition has it that the parents of Mary, Ann and Joachim, had no children at old age. They prayed and were told they will have a child who will be important in the history of salvation. The Solemnity of Immaculate Conception is calculated from this day back nine months to December 8. As Jesus is the central figure in our salvation, the readings of today focus on the coming of the Messiah.
Prophet Micah in the first reading (Micah 5: 1-4) promises that a male descendant of David will be born of a woman and He will be the Shepherd of the flock of God. It will be His responsibility to feed and protect the sheep.
In the gospel (Matt 1: 1-16, 18-23), we are given the account of the birth of Jesus. It presents Mary as the woman chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. She was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and the child is to be called “Yeshuwa” (Jesus) which means “God saves”.
Dear friends, because of the infinite merits of her Son, Mary was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. In Mary, the human nature is exalted and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature- bringing forth into the world, the Eternal Son of God. In humility, she became the first and best disciple of her Son, obeying the will of God.
I pray that as we journey in life today, we will embrace Mary as our mother if we embrace Jesus as our Saviour and brother. May we learn to be obedient to the will of God as she did. In her obedience, she became an integral part in the plan of our salvation. May she cover us with her mantle of love and intercede for our different needs. Have a Happy celebration and an obedient-full day!
Fr. Francis Onwunali