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Today, September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 114 days remaining until the end of the year.
It’s the birthday of famous people like Peter Sellers (Pink Panther fame), often accredited as one of the greatest comedians of all time, John Thomas, Boston Celtics’ forward and Pink (born Alecia Beth Moore) who became famous for her rendition of “Lady Marmalade.”
Also today in 1276 , John XXI was elected Pope; in 1522, Spanish navigator Juan de Elcano returned to Spain after completing the 1st circumnavigation of the globe and Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition began; in 1930, comic strip “Blondie” made its first appearance; in 1941, the entire Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania is exterminated, to name a few of the historical events remembered today.
The world can have an endless list of September 8 events and birthday celebrants. I’m sure we have our own personal lists, too. But allow me today to give honor to a birthday celebrant and an important historical event that signaled the end of many years of expectation and ushered in the time of hope, grace and salvation to all of us.
Today is the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus – the one girl who changed the world. Her image has become a beacon of light for the whole Christian people.
In the Catholic Church, the lives and deaths of saints are usually celebrated, even angels. In the Philippines, the celebration is magnified in every nook and corner of a sitio or barangay where a “kapilya” (chapel) is located. There is no place without a “kapilya” and where there is a “kapilya” there is a feast of a saint being celebrated. You can’t miss it. There are 9 days and nights of celebration complete with music blasting through giant speakers.
But the Virgin Mary is the most celebrated patroness in these chapels with so many titles: Mother of Perpetual Help, Virgin of the Rule, Our Lady of the Angels, Mary Help of Christians, Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of the Rosary, to name a few.
Why all these honors?
The book Dictionary of Mary presents that “the birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Savior. Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ; it partakes of a unique plan of predestination and grace. God’s mysterious plan regarding the incarnation of the Word embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother. In this way, the Birth of Mary is inserted at the very heart of the History of Salvation.”
This young girl’s “yes” to the angel Gabriel who visited her in her home in Nazareth and told her that she was to bear a son whom she shall name Jesus, the Son of the Most High triggered the fulfillment of our salvation.
Even though she didn’t fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity could happen because she was a virgin, Mary trusted the words of the angel and said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:26-38)
That one line is the greatest form of humility of surrender. Deep in her heart, I’m sure Mary was confused. Who is she to be chosen among all other women? Yet, she bowed to the will of God because she believed. Period.
In fact Mary’s entire life is a prayer of surrender, a great example for all of us to follow. That’s why she is our Mother.
Let us celebrate her birth today with joy and honor her image as the hope and light for the whole Christian people.
It crossed my mind that though our Blessed Mother is not with us physically today and all we can honor is her image in her many titles, there is a simple way to honor the Virgin and that is to make sure her name lives in all of us, whether it be our name or the names of members of our family.
I really pray that would-be parents take extra care in naming their children. It should not be what is popular, nice to hear or uniquely coined. Appendaging our children’s name with that of Mary’s is a blessing as well as a great reminder for them to live the life of their namesakes.
These are some Marian names taken from our Blessed Mother’s titles: Luz (light), Mercedes (mercy), Regina (queen), Consuelo (consolation), Dolores (sorrows), Madonna (my lady), Maris (the sea), Milagros (miracles), Nieves (snows), Pilar (pillar), Remedios (remedies), Socorro (help), Soledad (solitude) and of course, Rosario (rosary).
Live these names if you have them. Live the life of humility, obedience, faithfulness and surrender of our Blessed Mother. Live Jesus in our hearts through her.
Thank you God for giving us Mother Mary on this day.
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