Homily for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, 2017

Romans 8:28-30; Psalm 13; Matthew 1:1-16; 18-23

Jesus’ saving work is the reason we celebrate our feast today. For it is through Mary’s birth, her life, her consent to God’s plan, that our redemption has been accomplished. The church celebrates with a special feast the birth of only three people, that of John the Baptist, that of Mary and that of Jesus. All these festivities direct our attention to God’s desire to bring us to salvation. And so the gospel today is the genealogy of Jesus tracing through history God at work to bring about the Incarnation.

Our hearts resonate with Paul’s message to the Romans – all things work for the good of those who trust God. And it is the faith and trust and hope of the one whom we honor today that we acknowledge. Mary ordered her life to God’s plan – inviting and challenging us to so the same. She embodies a Christocentric life and so our Cistercian brothers chose to include as part of the prayers we stop to offer seven times a day a commendation to Our Lady recognizing that she continues to pray for us.

Matthew’s genealogy includes women, interesting for a document of his time, and includes some unsavory characters. Jesus did not come from a blood line without people who struggled to cooperate with God, but we are led to see in this manifest of Jesus’ relatives that God intends to draw into his holy people folks who didn’t automatically conform their thoughts and actions to God’s desire – and we rejoice to know that this includes us!

As we approach to be nourished with Jesus’ body and blood, we pray that with Mary, whose birth we are celebrating, we may strive to be God-bearers. With these words from Blessed Guerric of Igny, we take up our monastic day: “As the Christ-child in the womb advanced toward birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a person’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.” Taking our cue from Mary – a woman of few but well-chosen words – may our monastic living bring us to embrace a silence like hers and be strengthened to live as she did–centered on bringing Jesus to others!