God’s Today and Our Lady’s Birthday


El Greco Virgin Mary

We hear St. Paul give thanks in our first reading a Holy Mass today, from the beginning of his letter to the Colossians. He thanked God that the gospel had born fruit and grown. Born fruit and grown among the Colossians, and also throughout the world.

Since we will celebrate Our Lady’s birthday in just two days, let’s think about St. Ann’s special fruitfulness. On December 8, she and her husband Joachim embraced. Their embrace set in motion the chain of events that would eventually make them God’s grandparents. And God made that moment uniquely fruitful. By the grace of Christ crucified, Joachim and Ann conceived a child free of sin.

God sees everything—all time—at once. At the very beginning, He saw everything, all the way to the end. That’s called the “Today” of God. All time is the Today of God.

Fresco of Joachim and Ann by Giotto

Now, such extensive knowledge would certainly seem like an unsupportable burden to our little minds. But for the Lord, all-seeing knowledge means perfect blessedness. He can see the full realization of all the growth He sets in motion, and it adds relish to His infinite delight.

God makes trees and plants and animals grow. The trees and plants and animals don’t perceive their own growth; they just grow. We, on the other hand, can perceive growth. We can delight in it, like God does. But for us, it’s not pure knowledge. Rather, it’s a kind of mystery. We see growth occurring, but we don’t know how it will end.

Maybe all the growth we see will end only with tragic death? After all, cancer is a kind of growth—run amok. Maybe the power we see that gives living things an unknown future—the power of growth; maybe that power ultimately succumbs to the other power we see at work in living things: the power that brings growth to an end. The power of dissolution and death.

Our Lady’s birth gives us the answer to that honest question. In the Garden of Eden, our human flesh lived with immortal life, until our First Parents fell. When St. Ann gave birth to Mary on September 8, our flesh lived on earth with immortal life again.

In other words: the birth of our immaculate Lady means that the Today of God is not The End. The Today of God is always the beginning.

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