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The birth of Jesus

Gospel Reading: Mt 1:18-23S
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.”

She will bear a son
Two narratives of the “Annunciation” are fitting Gospel readings for the feast of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In Luke, the angel Gabriel is sent to the town of Nazareth to a young woman already betrothed or soon to be married (cf Lk 1:26-27). But Mary is more than meets the eye. She may be an ordinary woman to her neighbors, but not so in the eyes of God. The angel Gabriel calls her kecharitomene or “favored one” by God. This is because the Lord has looked upon the lowliness of his handmaid and chose her to be the mother of the Messiah who is also the Son of God (cf Lk 1:28, 48). Later, Elizabeth will call her most blessed among women because of the fruit of her womb (Jesus) and because she believed that the word of the Lord would come true (cf Lk 1:42, 45). Indeed, to be the mother of the Lord is Mary’s singular privilege, but she also measures up to the criterion of blessedness in the Kingdom of heaven:

listening to the word of God and keeping it (cf Lk 11:28). Mary is thus doubly blessed as “mother” and “disciple.”

Before she conceives Jesus in her womb, she conceives him in her heart with her fiat to the angel: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

In Matthew, the “annunciation” is made to Joseph, but who is spoken about is Mary. When she is found pregnant, Joseph suspects adultery and plans to divorce her quietly. But he is informed that Mary has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and this is the fulfillment of the oracle of Isaiah about the Immanuel (cf Is 7:14). The Child in her womb is not only a symbol of God’s special care and protection for his people. He is truly God’s presence among men – God who became man, lived among us, and continues to be with us until the end of time (cf Mt 28:20).

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.