“Your Nativity, O Virgin Theotokos, / Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! / The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, / Has shone from You! / Having annulled the curse (λύσας τὴν κατάραν), / He bestowed blessing. / Having destroyed death (καταργήσας τὸν θάνατον), He has granted us eternal Life.” (Troparion-hymn of the feast of The Nativity of the Theotokos)
The birth of a baby-girl to an elderly and heretofore childless, Jewish couple, Joachim and Anna, over 2,000 years ago in a small village called Nazareth, did “proclaim” joy “to the whole universe.” But at the time it happened, few people heard about it. Nor did those few who did hear about it, at that time, understand what a universe-changing, death-destroying “joy” and “blessing” the birth of this little girl was, who was to become the Blessed Among Women and Mother of Our God.
Unlike the “news” that almost-instantly reaches us in our 24/7 news-cycle, the “good news” that God has “proclaimed” to us throughout the centuries, and continues to proclaim to us, like the “joy” of the birth of our inimitable Lady, the Most Holy Theotokos, is often far more slow to reach us. Why? Because we need to be ready to receive it; to have “the ears to hear” it. In fact even we, believing Christians, who have “heard” many times about the birth of the Theotokos, might not experience this historical fact as a source of joy and blessing. That’s why the Church invites us wholeheartedly to “celebrate” it, year after year, on the great feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, (celebrated this Friday on the Older Calendar), – not just like another historical fact or bit of “information” to file away in the mental database of our theological educations, no. We are rather invited to partake of it, like of a source of joy and blessing, in the liturgical and sacramental celebration of the Church. And we grow, year after year, as we walk our cross-carrying journeys, in our capacity to open up to, and receive, the joy and blessing of the Feast, more and more. Thank You, God, for leading us gradually, by the hand of our beautiful Tradition, into the mysteries of Your “good news,” year after year, even while we choose to overwhelm ourselves with the Too Much Information of our 24/7 news-cycle, the joys and sorrows of which we just don’t have the time to process. Nonetheless, thanks to Tradition, today I can allow myself to rejoice, and to be blessed, by just one little “factoid” of Salvation History, the birth of Your Mother in Nazareth. By the prayers of the Theotokos, Saviour, save us!