Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 9-8-22

Reflection for the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 9-8-22, Year C
Readings: Mi 1:1-16; Ps 13:6abc; Gospel Mt 1:1-16, 18-23
Feast: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Theme: Without Birth, There Is No Life

Today we celebrate a feast of the Virgin Mary. It is a celebration of her birth. Without her being born, Christ would not have come to us as our savior. The Virgin Mary was born to St. Anne and St. Joachim between 14 and 18 BC in Jerusalem. In other words, she was about 14 to 18 years of age when she gave birth to Jesus (her real age is unknown, and these dates and times vary between scholars and theologians). That is very young by today’s standards but very common in those times.

Nestled somewhere in a common neighborhood of Jerusalem was the house of St. Anne and St. Joachim, and in that house was born the mother of the Son of God whom she named Emmanuel. Today’s celebration was started in the latter half of the 5th century where a Basilica was built over the place where St. Anne and St. Joachim’s house once stood and housed the birth of the Virgin Mary. It was originally known as the “The Basilica of Holy Mary” but is now known as the “The Basilica of St. Anne.”

We read today from the Prophet Micah, who was a contemporary of Isaiah in the 8th century (about mid 700 BC). I find it interesting that Micah also proclaimed, as Isaiah did, that the ruler of Israel will come forth from a woman through birth (in Bethlehem). For Micah states, “when she who is to give birth has borne….He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord.” Matthew quotes Isaiah who proclaimed the same prophetic message, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Although Micah and Isaiah probably knew of each other, they most likely were not close and their work within Judea was in very different places and to different people.

It is obvious that God’s plan was to incarnate Himself as true God and true Man, into our world through a virgin, undefiled, sinless, and pure. We celebrate Mary’s sinless conception as the “Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary” on December 8th. There were only two sinless people on this earth, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Without Mary, there is no Jesus among us. Without Mary’s acceptance of her fiat (acceptance as the handmaid of the Lord), there is no Jesus among us. Without Jesus among us, there is no mercy, forgiveness or hope for any of us.

As Christians, we only worship one God in the three persons of the Holy Trinity i.e., the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But our reverence of the Virgin Mary’s acceptance to be the “Mother of God” (Theotokos) is of great importance and deserving of our respect and veneration of who she is and what she does. She is the Queen of Heaven and was assumed into heaven where she resides with her Son Jesus for all eternity.

As we read the genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew, from Abraham to Joseph, we are reminded of the plan that God has set forth for the entire universe from before time. It is one of love and forgiveness, even for the most sinful among us. Accepting the son of Mary as our savior, living out his teachings, and doing good works among our neighbors will secure for us a place in the heavenly kingdom. We have the birth of the Virgin Mary through God’s grace to thank for bringing about the answer to our salvation.

Mary, Queen of heaven, pray for us!

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL