O Most Holy Birth Giver of God Save Us!” With such powerful words The Holy Orthodox Church concludes almost all of its divine services, making its final appeal to the One, who is the first among the Heavenly choirs of the saints who intercede God on behalf of the human race.
Today, on this eighth day of the Liturgical year as we celebrate her blessed Nativity, let’s pause and contemplate upon the role and the image of the Most Holy Birth Giver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.
So why the eighth day? Because eight represents the number of eternity. Eight takes us out of created time; out of the repetitive cycle of the seven day week and into eternity. With the birth of the Mother of God, the promise of eternity has returned to mankind. For she was chosen from her mother Anna’s womb to become the Royal Door through which the Pre-eternal God will enter into human history, into human time.
The Holy Virgin was born in a natural way, not out of lust, but out of pure aspiration to give birth to and bring up a child devoted to God.
Her father Joachim was of the line of David – a king and prophet; her mother Anna, was of the line of Aaron a high priest and their daughter Mary was born to give birth to the Almighty King of kings, Prophet of prophets and Priest of priests, to Christ the Messiah Himself
Her birth proclaims joy to mankind because it’s a solemn testament that our God has not forgotten us, that He is continually attentive to our salvation and that through her has reconciled our humanity to Himself. Her entire life was different from the lives of others. She was in a sense fasten to God all the way from the time of her conception in her mother’s previously barren womb, to the moment of her giving birth to our Lord God and Savior. She lived a childhood in loving obedience to her parents, and when the time came to leave their house according to the promise her parents rendered to God, she was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be raised with all the other virgins, as the purest gift to God. As she matured, her trust and devotion to the Lord God only grew stronger and brighter in her soul. The culmination of that spiritual growth was manifested in her humble words on the day of the Annunciation, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke1:38). She grasped the significance of what God did to her and through her, but in spite of this grand knowledge, she maintained a humble and peaceful mind, always pointing to her Divine Son saying: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn. 2:5)
The liturgical year not only begins with the feast of the Mother of God, but also concludes with the commemoration of her blessed Repose/Dormition. For, in the life of the Church, we are shown that what happened to Mary could also happen to anyone who imitates her holy life of humility, obedience and love of God. For, all who follow the Son of God Who willed to become the Son of Mary, will be “blessed” and be…“more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare, more glorious than the seraphim”. All of us will have Christ born in us by the Holy Spirit and become temples of the living God, as we are assured. In our prayers, let us beseech the Holy Mother of God so that through our personal humility and devotion we too might become like her and be with Her Divine Son for all of eternity. “O Most Holy Birth Giver of God save and help us all!”
Fr. Andrii Pokotylo
Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Orthodox Parish, New Britain, CT