The Nativity of Mary

Joseph_and_Mary_arrive_at_BethlehemToday, the Catholic Church celebrates Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The  Canon of Scripture does not record Mary’s birth. The earliest known account of Mary’s birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), an non-biblical text from the late second century, with her parents known as Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. The book works its way to being an infancy gospel telling of the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary, her upbringing and marriage to Joseph, the journey of the holy couple to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and events immediately following.

The feast day, September 8, is selected as being 9 months after the celebration of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8). The first known celebration of the feast dates to the 7th century in the West and perhaps a century earlier in the East. Continue reading

Who do you say that I am?

Peter-do-you-love-meNow Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 7:27-29)

Earlier in the gospel (6:14-16), we hear a prelude to the question of Jesus’ identity as Herod speculates that he is John the Baptist come back from the grave. Now Jesus asks the disciples what is the “buzz” among the people; what are they saying about Jesus’ identity. Herod’s guess continues to float, to which is added other prophets – one might well conclude at least the word of the street acknowledges Jesus as sent from God. Jesus then puts the same question to the disciples. Peter replies, “the Messiah” (v. 29). This confession is the first correct human statement about Jesus’ identity in the Gospel. Human witness now replaces the shouted confessions of demons that Jesus had to silence. Continue reading