Friday, 7 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Maryām!


Tomorrow is the feast of Mary’s nativity - her birthday :) and, to be honest, it hasn't meant a whole lot to me up until now. I greatly appreciated the feasts of Mary's being mother of God (that opens the calendar year), of her sorrows, of her assumption into heaven (which coincides with my parents’ wedding anniversary and my younger son’s birth), of the annunciation and of her immaculate conception, but her birthday just seemed a bit of an add-on.

Trying to understand the significance of this feast, which is only one of three birthdays the Church celebrates (the others being those of John the Baptist and Jesus), I started looking at what has been said about it so far, and I have to say that most homilies that I came across were rather disappointing. Not necessarily as such, but with regard to shedding light on celebrating Mary’s birthday, rather than other aspects of her life.

Then I found this gem:
“The present Feast is for us the beginning of feasts. Serving as boundary to the law and to prototypes, at the same time it serves as a doorway to grace and truth. “For Christ is the end of the law” (Romans 10:4), Who, having freed us from the letter (of the law), raises us to spirit.” (St. Andrew of Crete, sermon on the Nativity of the Theotokos)
Wow! Reading this was a real ‘eureka’ moment for me as it does squarely hit the nail on its head. Mary’s birth can be seen as the start of Christianity, which becomes flesh in her some years later. It is the beginning of a new way, the breaking of prototypes, the transition from rules to life. I warmly recommend the whole sermon, which opens with the above lines and which, in its joyous tone, is a great fit for tomorrow’s celebration.