A Thousand Times: On Mother Mary’s birthday

Biblical Reflection by Fr Randy Flores SVD on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary and the SVD foundation day

The mother’s birthday fell on the same date as her daughter’s. On the very first birthday then of her daughter, she made a promise that from now on she would always celebrate her own birthday with her daughter. For how many mothers and daughters would have the same birthday? So, whenever her birthday was approaching and her friends cajoled her into throwing a blowout, she would alway say, “Sorry, I’ll not be around; I’m going to the city to be with my daughter. We have the same birthday.” She kept that promise till she died at 80 years old. In her eulogy, the daughter said to her mother: “My mother is only 25 years old. She stopped celebrating her birthday when I was born 55 years ago.”

Today is the birthday of the Blessed Mother (also the Foundation Day of the Society of the Divine Word). Her birthday is never mentioned in the Bible. Only after 55 years when the last Gospel was composed, that written stories about her birth began to circulate. She never really celebrated her birthday, one might say. It was always her Son’s.

Our Gospel is not about her birthday but about her Son’s birthday. The evangelist Matthew begins his story with a genealogy–a list of 47 names (42 men and 5 women). The description of Mary is short and indirect: Joseph, husband of Mary; and of her was born Jesus. “Christ” is the last name on the list, the most important and the peak of the genealogy.

Matthew’s very short story of the birth of Jesus revolves around two incidents: the announcement of the birth of Jesus and the naming of the child. Joseph is more active in the story than Mary. But there is an important aspect here that informs us how the evangelist held high regard for Mary. Matthew presents the unfolding of events as part of the divine plan of God from the beginning and Mary is at the center of this plan. So, the angel announces to Joseph: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ (Mt 1,23).” If Mary belongs essentially to this plan of salvation, we have the right to think today that her birthday must also be very special and worth remembering a thousand times.

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