Meditation on the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Churches of Constantinople in the East and Rome in the West celebrate liturgies in honor of Mary's birth from the sixth and seventh centuries on. The origin of the liturgy is traced to the consecration of the church in Jerusalem in the sixth century that has been traditionally known as St. Ann's Basilica. The original church built in the fifth century was a Marian basilica erected on the spot known as the shepherd's field and thought to have been the home of Mary's parents. Sacred Scripture does not record Mary's birth. The earliest known writing regarding Mary's birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), which is an apocryphal writing from the late second century. What matters is not the historicity of the account, but the significance of Mary's and of every person's birth. In Mary's case, the early Church grew more and more interested in the circumstances surrounding the origin of Christ. Discussion about Mary throws light on the discussion about the identity of Jesus Christ.
In many cultures, the birthday of every person merits a celebration. Family and friends gather to wish the "birthday child" many happy returns. There are well-wishing, balloons, cards, cakes, candles, a favorite meal, there are gifts and jests--all the things that say, at least once a year, "You are special, there's only one of you, we are happy that you exist." So, it is for the people of God and Mary. – Father Johann G. Roten, S.M.
Meditation for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB
According to the evangelist John, there are five people at the foot of the cross, of whom the most prominent are the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple, two figures whose names are never given. These two people are historical figures but it is clear that John is interested in them for symbolic and theological reasons. This beloved disciple who is venerated by John's community more than any disciple of Jesus, even Peter, leader of the twelve, is left nameless, because he is to serve as a model for all those whom Jesus loves.
John is particularly interested in Jesus' words to his Mother and to the beloved disciple. Is Jesus' filial concern the main theme of this profound moment in the Fourth Gospel? Are we dealing with a historical and logistical question pertaining to the immediate departure of both the beloved disciple and the Mother from Calvary even before Jesus died? Should we understand, “and from that hour” to mean that Jesus died on the cross with not one of his own with Him at the last moment? Or should we understand the expression, "and from that hour" as an indication of the perpetuity of the disciple's care for the Mother of Jesus? Why is the Mother only referred to as “woman”? Can we assume that she was well known among Christians and would not have to be named? Finally, why did Jesus wait until the last moment, when He could hardly speak, to provide for the future of his Mother and her care by his best friend?
The Beloved Disciple welcomed the Mother of Jesus among his own, into his own community, into his most precious possessions, because He was able to recognize in this woman her great dignity in the community of believers and in the story of salvation. He not only welcomed her as Mother, but she welcomed him as son. This beloved disciple therefore became a true brother of the one hanging on the cross.
This scene at the foot of the Cross teaches us what it means to live in communion with others. From the cross, Jesus turns us outward toward people to whom we are not physically related, identifying these people as our spiritual mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers. From the Cross, Jesus breaks down the barriers between people and creates this new family by the power that flows from his death for humanity. May we learn from the example of Jesus, the Beloved Disciple and the Mother of the Lord on Calvary, imitate their mutual welcome and become true brothers and sisters of the one hanging on the Cross.