Today, 8th September, we celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Our Blessed Mother!
“What then should we offer to the Mother of the Word other than an oration? Let the whole of creation make festival and sing of the most holy birth-giving of the holy Anna. For she bore for the world an inviolable treasury of blessings.” (St John Damascene, On the Nativity of Mary)
The Epistle today is from Philippians, and it is about Christ, “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:7-9).
Today is the first of the great feasts of the Church (liturgical) year with the commemoration of the birthday of our Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and ever-virgin, Mary.
As you know, every feast has a history and a meaning for us. Today’s feast is pointing our attention less to the birth of Mary, as very important as it is, to the Nativity of Our Lord, the Incarnation. All liturgical feasts point to Our Savior. Let’s consider the feast in these terms:
“Like most feasts of the Virgin, this one began as a feast of dedication of a church built to honor Joachim and Anna. It was located near Jerusalem at a site held by tradition to be the birthplace of their daughter.
THE REPROACH OF CHILDLESSNESS
The Nativity of Mary
(Saturday, September 8)
“By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin, / Joachim and Anna are freed from the reproach of childlessness (ὀνειδισμοῦ ἀτεκνίας); / Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death. / And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you: / The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!” (Kontakion-hymn of the Nativity of the Theotokos)
As those of us on the “New” Calendar celebrate the great feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos this Saturday, our attention is drawn to the whole topic of the “reproach of childlessness,” endured for decades by the Holy Virgin’s parents, Joachim and Anna. They were liberated from this “shame,” just as we were freed from the “guilt” of sin, by the birth of the Birth-Giver of God, the “only” child from a marriage that endured even as it was “reproached.”