8 September – Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary announced joy and the approaching salvation of a lost world. Mary was brought into the world not like other children of Adam, infected with the contagion of sin, but pure, holy, beautiful, and glorious, adorned with all the most precious graces fitting for the one predestined to be the Mother of the Saviour. Never did she have the slightest inclination towards anything other than the absolute and immediate Will of God.
She appeared indeed in the weak condition of all mortals, but in the eyes of Heaven she already transcended the highest seraphim in purity, humility, charity, and the richest ornaments of grace. God had created her in the original grace, as in the beginning Adam and Eve had enjoyed that ineffable privilege; after original sin, it was lost for all Adam’s posterity, until the time of the Redemption dawned in Mary. (Cf. I Cor. 15:21-23)
The nations celebrate, often too noisily, the birthdays of the great ones of this earth… How then ought we, Christians, to rejoice in that of the Virgin Mary, Mother of our Salvation, and to present publicly to God the homage of our best praises and thanksgiving for the great mercies He has shown in her, imploring her mediation with her Divine Son!
Jesus of Nazareth will not reject the supplications of His most holy Mother, through whom He chose to descend from Heaven; she, the Spouse of the Canticle, is all beautiful and is the one He was pleased to obey while on earth. Her love, care, and tenderness for Him, the title and qualities which she bears, the charity and graces with which she is adorned, and the crown of glory with which she is honoured, incline Him readily to receive her recommendations and petitions.
The Lord says this:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
the least of the clans of Judah,
out of you will be born for me
the one who is to rule over Israel;
his origin goes back to the distant past,
to the days of old.
The Lord is therefore going to abandon them
till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.
Then the remnant of his brothers will come back
to the sons of Israel.
He will stand and feed his flock
with the power of the Lord,
with the majesty of the name of his God.
They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power
to the ends of the land.
He himself will be peace.
A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’
He shall be peace
By the time you read this, I should have already started off on my Camino from Leon. When I first decided to do this walk last October, little did I know that the preparation would lead me to the challenges that I encountered during the past month or so. And while the challenges were mainly work-related, I found myself getting drained and feeling dry from other ‘work’ matters that I had been called to do.
In fact, until about 6 weeks ago, when one of my worship leaders asked me how preparations were going, I could confidently reply that I was physically ready. Thereafter, it was the spiritual challenges that started to wear me down; especially when challenges at work came rushing to the fore. In all the years since I made an about face and started to journey back to God, I cannot recall ever feeling so ‘tested’. But in expectant faith, I know that He is with me and will be with us on our pilgrimage. At my last sacrament of reconciliation, the priest offered this nugget for me to contemplate on – think of the walk as both of you on the road to Emmaus, and pray that the Lord appears before you.
The moment I heard those words, I came to a firm realisation as to the purpose of my journey. Far from being something to ‘check off’ on a bucket list, I knew right away that my original reason – to give thanks to the Lord for all His blessings over the past 49 years of my life – was valid. And that He was in fact calling me to encounter Him powerfully. Whether or not it happens, I can only open my heart each day as I walk towards Santiago de Compostela; and not be so desperate as to search for Him in every encounter, but to just let it happen. Because I know that He will come among us in His own way, at His own time.
As it is, I am not too sure what to expect. I am quietly excited and very much looking forward to the time away from everyone and everything to contemplate and to be at peace. Is it a form of escapism? I know deep down that I am strong enough to face everything in my path. But perhaps it is just God’s way of telling me, “Enough son. Come and be with me, let me take care of you all of your worries.” I know that life back home will go on. I just wonder what it will be like when I return.
Brothers and sisters, we are all on a journey with a definite end. How many of us can truly say that at the end, when we finally meet God, that we will have found our peace? I will be praying for all in this ministry and all the lives that have been touched. Pray for me, that as I journey towards my destination, the Lord will bless me with His everlasting peace and undying love so that I can carry on His work.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant us the peace that you have ordained for each and every one of us. Help us to see that our worries are unfounded and that above all, you have the power to wipe them all away.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for all the times that you have blessed us with your peace and joy. We ask that you continue to shower us with your everlasting love.