08 Sep – Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
If you work for Me, it doesn’t really matter whether or not success rewards your efforts. Leave all this in My hands. Since I do not need your labour, the result is of little consequence; all that matters is that you did it for Me. – God
Now you are walled around with a wall;
Siege is laid against us;
With a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel,
Whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth;
Then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23
The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.
David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
Much has been said about the Blessed Virgin Mary and this specific passage and what I’m going to say may not be new to some. One of the reasons why we Catholics honour Mary is because she accepted to carry out God’s plan. We were all given free will and when told by the angel that she had been chosen to bear the Saviour of the world, her only worry was how could it happen since she was a virgin. She did not say ‘no’, she did not immediately think of things like “Wow, I’ve been chosen to bear God’s son!” or “I must be pretty great to have been given this grace.” In total surrender and humility, she only asked how she could fulfil God’s plan and simply said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Then again, it didn’t depend only on Mary but also on Joseph. He was righteous and so he followed the Jewish laws faithfully. One law (if I remember correctly) is that a woman found with child (pregnant) before marriage is to be shamed – by that, I forgot if it’s to be publicly shamed or to be lapidated. But Joseph did not want to expose her to that. And after being told in a dream not to be afraid, he eventually took her as his wife. It’s difficult for a righteous man to do that nowadays, now imagine a righteous man 2,000 years ago. But Joseph also chose to obey what the angel told him and took her in his home.
Had it not been for both of them choosing to do the will of God, Jesus would not have been born of a virgin called Mary and a father named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Maybe it would have been another virgin and another descendant, but that is not the point.
Mary and Joseph could well have decided not to do as the angel told them but they chose to follow God’s will although they should have been unsure of what would happen to them. I liken their decision to something the new head of the Science Faculty Catholic Group (NUS Catholic Students Society) mentioned during his speech after the committee’s commissioning mass.
He mentioned that if we are doing something for the Lord, we shouldn’t worry about the consequences, about whether we’ll sin or things like that. And that is very true. As long as we are really doing something for God, if we are doing His will, He will take care of whatever results and consequences that may come afterwards. All we need to do is trust in His plan, like Mary. She is the perfect example of one who put her trust in God, even if it meant the death of her son.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Lyndley Ah Qune)
We pray that we may, like Mary, surrender to God’s will for us and respond to His call.
Thanksgiving: People who lead by example.
Sat, 9 Sep – 1 Corinthians 4:6b-15; Luke 6:1-5; Memorial for Bl. Peter Claver, priest
Sun, 10 Sep – Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37; 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.