The Scriptures are silent on many things, included among them being an account of Mary’s parents and even her birth and childhood. This is where our Sacred Tradition can give us some insight, preserving for future generations of the Church in the Protoevangelium of St. James that Mary was the only daughter (and long-awaited child) of Joachim and Anne.
But it’s the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a feast we celebrated exactly nine months ago, that sheds some radiant light on today’s feast of her Nativity, a day which the Church calls in the closing prayer of the Mass “the hope and daybreak of salvation for all the world.” The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary makes her Immaculate Conception visible and bears into the world the woman spoken of in Genesis 3:15 who will battle with the devil for the sake of humanity. Original sin entered human nature through the sin of our first parents, but the Immaculate Conception and birth of Mary brought joy into humanity’s sorrow.
St. Augustine says,
Eve wept, but Mary laughed. Eve’s womb was big with tears, but Mary’s womb was big with gladness. Eve gave birth to a sinner, but Mary gave birth to the sinless One. The mother of our race brought punishment into the world, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into the world. Eve was the foundress of sin, but Mary was the foundress of righteousness. Eve welcomed death, but Mary helped in life. Eve smote, but Mary healed. For Eve’s disobedience, Mary offered obedience ; and for Eve’s unbelief, Mary offered faith (Second Nocturne of Matins).
From the very beginning of her earthly life, Mary became the mediator of graces and her fiat became the floodgates for our salvation. Every moment of her life was oriented toward the Incarnation. Every breath she drew anticipated the day of salvation. Her “soul magnifie[d] the Lord” long before she put words to it and offered them to St. Elizabeth (Luke 1:46). Her “yes,” simple and humble, reverses the “no” of sin, and in Mary, we find our model of how to love God simply but profoundly.
We pray today that Mary will show us her Son, Jesus Christ, and just as every moment of her life was a pilgrimage toward her Son, we ask her to guide us on our pilgrimage to Jesus–to him who is our joy and our hope.