Wednesday September 8, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading (Romans 8:28-30) Gospel (St. Matthew 1:1-23)
In the first reading today from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul says to us: All of those whom God predestined He also called; and those He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified. Now we put that in the context of the Gospel reading today. We see the genealogy of Our Lord going all the way back to Abraham. In this we know also that God had promised all the way from the time of Israel (Jacob, whose son was Judah) that it was from him that the Messiah was going to be born. This went back many, many generations and yet in God’s foreknowledge and in His providence He knew exactly which tribe it was that was going to bring forth the Messiah, and therefore the mother of the Messiah. He foreknew and foretold just exactly how this was going to be. We see then in the Gospel reading all of these different people who are involved in the genealogy of our blessed Lord and we realize, as we celebrate the birth of Our Lady, that from before time began God knew He was going to create the most perfect human person, exactly who she was going to be, and the purpose for that creation. He sent her into the world in the fullness of time, as Saint Paul would say to the Galatians: when everything had been prepared according to God’s foreknowledge.
Now this is something important for us because it means that God also from all eternity knew He was going to create us. He knew He was going to put us in the world precisely at this time and for His own purpose. We are not just some random thing that occurred. It is not merely by the will of our own parents that we are here, but it is by the Will of God. And He knew from all eternity that He was going to create you exactly on the day that He did. That tells you that you are here because God wants you here. It is not a mistake that you are here, but rather it is God’s foreknowledge, His providence. He has called you to Himself. Now we might look at this and say, “Well, of course He would tell us about Our Lord and Our Lady because they’re the most important people that ever lived.” But what is true of them is also true of you.
So as we celebrate the birth of the Blessed Mother today, the only human person ever to be conceived without Original Sin, the only human person ever to live the way that God intended for us to live, we rejoice. We rejoice heartily today because our salvation has begun. We celebrate the beginning in a very specific way of what God’s intention was. You see in the Gospel that in all this genealogy God’s intention carried all the way back and we can see how it worked. Salvation began, of course, with Adam and Eve, with the promise God made that there would be a Messiah and that He was going to be born of a woman, and that woman was going to crush the head of the serpent. So today as we celebrate Our Lady’s birthday, we look back a couple of thousand years; it was a day of great anguish for Satan and all of his minions because he knew that this most humble of all human persons ever to be born was also going to be the one that he would have to reckon with and the one that he would not be able to overcome.
Into our world filled with darkness and sin, a world 2,000 years ago in Palestine that was not living according to God’s way, a world that had very much gone astray, in the midst of the darkness the dawn suddenly appeared and the light began to shine and there was hope. That same dawn continues to rise through every age because the dawn is our Blessed Lady, the light shining through the darkness. She is the Morning Star. She is the one who shines in the darkness. The fathers of the Church would say that Jesus is the sun and Our Lady is the moon reflecting His light. But the moon shines in the darkness. So in the darkness of our hearts, in the darkness of our world, we have this glorious light shining to help us along the way, to give us hope, to give us confidence. Knowing that just as she was called and predestined by God and justified, so are we – not in the same way, obviously, because she is without sin. She is the only one who did it right and did it perfectly, but she is our mother. What a wonderful thing for us to be able to rejoice with all the angels, to be able to rejoice with the Most Holy Trinity that the one perfect creature God was going to make had now come into this world. As Saint John says of Jesus, The Light came into the darkness and the darkness was not able to overcome it, this is the dawn that precedes the sunrise, the dawn that broke through the darkness. And the darkness of Satan and all of his lies was not able to overcome her either. So as long as we remain close to her we will remain in the light. In the darkness of our world and the darkness of our own sinfulness, she continues to reflect the light of her Son, she continues to be the one that God sends to give us hope, to give us confidence and encouragement, in that beautiful soft maternal way to call us back to her Son and give us the confidence to continue to live the life. As she lived it perfectly in the midst of all the sin in the world at that time, we too can have the confidence that being with her we can live our lives according to God’s Will. In the midst of this world gone astray, we, like her, will be able to shine like a light in the darkness reflecting the glory of Jesus Christ in our hearts and in our lives.
So today, as we celebrate her birth into this world, with all of the angels and saints we rejoice. And as my own mother used to say every year when we would ask, “Mom, what do you want for your birthday?” she would say, “Good kids.” Well, let us give Our Lady that birthday present. Let us be the best of children living without sin, imitating our mother, and giving greater glory to her Son.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.