Homily for Nativity of BVM

The Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Matthew 1.1-16

Dearly Beloved:

Close your ears to anyone who tells you anything about another Jesus. Our Jesus Christ can trace His ancestry back to David. He is the Son of Mary. He really was born and ate and drank. He really was persecuted under Pontius Pilate. He really was executed on the cross and died in the sight of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth. But that’s not all. He also was truly raised from the dead by His Father. In the same way, all those who pin their hopes to Him—all who are planted in Christ Jesus—will also be raised by God the Father. (Ignatius to the Trallians [paraphrased])

Apart from this flesh and blood Jesus, there is no real Savior. So apart from this flesh and blood Jesus, we have no true and real life.

That’s the point of all those names that you heard in today’s Gospel. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Nashon, Rahab, Ruth, Obed, David, Johosaphat, Josiah, Shealtiel, Eleazar, Matthan—those are the real-life ancestors of Jesus. They are real people who lived real lives and were part of real events. The locate our Jesus in time and space.

Those men and women remind us and tell us that, when Our Father and Creator sent His Son to be Our Savior, He didn’t send a superman or someone who could slip in and out of skin. Our Savior, Our Redeemer, Our God becomes one of us—with a real history, a real ancestry. He becomes as real as we are, by totally assuming and enmeshing Himself with our flesh, our world, our history, our selves. He is fully united to us, fully connected to us, even more—if you will believe it—than we are to each other. The Creator of all things completely becomes one of His creatures.

So don’t let anyone tell you that your Jesus was a phantasm, a comic book character, an unreal person. And don’t let anyone convince you that your Jesus put on a body like you put on clothes. And don’t let anyone encourage you to believe that Jesus is really a spirit who slipped into a body when He was born, and then slipped out of it when He ascended. There are those who say such things; those who have built their spirituality on such lives. But those who say such things are talking about another Jesus—a Jesus who did not really suffer or die, a Jesus who really doesn’t know what its like to be you, a Jesus who was not really tempted in all ways as you are.

Our Lord Jesus Christ can fully identify with your weaknesses. Because He is flesh and blood, our Jesus has lived through it all, gone through it all, endured it all, suffered it all. He knows what it means to be human. And because our Jesus is God in the flesh, He has also endured and lived through and suffered every disease, every heartache, every pain, every stress, every poverty, every temptation, every cross, every death that you can ever endure. For He has truly suffered. He was tempted just like you are. And so He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Therefore, you get to approach Him boldly and with confidence, and you can truly rely on Him and pin all your hopes to Him. And you can be sure that He gives you real mercy and actual grace to help in time of need. For He didn’t swoop down just to get a taste of your life. He truly lived a life like yours, so that He can truly be your life and live in and through you.

Mary’s the link to all this. For Jesus gets His flesh, His DNA, His blood-type and His ancestry from her. Matthew makes sure you understand that. For while he traces the ancestry through Joseph, Matthew ends with Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So she’s not an unimportant figure. She is the Mother of Our Lord, the woman who gives birth to God. And your Jesus looks like His mother. You see the Mother in the face of the Son.

But let’s not get off track. For while it’s important to see the Blessed Virgin in the face of her Son, we fix our eyes not on Mary but on Jesus. And while we must never forget Mary—for then we are in danger of forgetting ourselves; and while we must venerate and pray to Mary—for she is the greatest gift humanity has given to God: let us more so remember Our Lord Jesus who is born by Mary to save and redeem us.

For that is what gives Mary great joy—that we adore her Son; that we heed His Word; and that we often, readily, and quickly eat her Son’s flesh and drink His blood.

In doing that, we not only honor the Virgin Mary in the way that pleases her; we also emulate her faith and worship. For what does she sing? “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God, my Jesus.”

To know and believe not just that Jesus is God, but also that Mary’s Son is your Savior; not just that God helps you, but that the Son of the Virgin delivers you from death; not just that some God named Jesus is here, but that the Virgin-born truly is your Lord and your God—that honors Mary the most, and that is the best and most fitting celebration of her birth. For it’s not about her. Her birth is a necessary precursor of our salvation. But it’s her Son who so lovingly gives and sacrifices Himself for His Mother, for you, for your neighbors, for all people—all so that you might bear His body and blood in your flesh, just as Mary carried His flesh in her womb. And then you’re more Mary than you ever imagined—all because of the Man who can’t be separated from His Mother.

Let us then celebrate the birthday of Our Lord’s Mother with thankful hearts. And let us do so by saying “Amen” to His Word and Supper. For Our Lord Jesus came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man for our benefit and for our salvation; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, belongs all glory, honor and worship.