Commentary on the Gospel of

Susan Naatz - Creighton University's Ignatian Formation and Ministry for Faculty and Staff

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Today we honor the birth of Mary.  From Franciscan media we read:   If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning… Each time we celebrate her birth, we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Today’s Gospel highlights Mary’s role in the Incarnation and how her “yes” changed the world.  Reading about Mary and Joseph brought about a personal memory for me in my own parenting journey.  I will never forget the moment that our attorney and his wife stepped out of their car.   She was carrying the beautiful, crocheted blanket that my sister had given to us for our first baby. Tucked inside the blanket was our baby boy.   My husband and I along with most of my siblings were standing at the picture window as we watched them walk toward my parents’ home gently cradling him.  We held our breath.  She walked into the house straight toward me.  She carefully and lovingly placed the blanket and its precious cargo into my arms.  I immediately felt the warmth and the movement of our son who we were about to meet for the first time.  As tears of joy streamed down, I uncovered his beautiful, tiny, baby face.  Our call from God and our journey as adoptive parents had begun. 

As I re-read the gospel several times, I realized that in addition to Mary’s “yes,” Joseph’s willingness to adopt Jesus and co-parent with Mary was another paramount part of their witness. The Women’s Bible Commentary writes:  Joseph’s “…accepting Mary and naming the child socially legitimates both mother and son; Joseph is Jesus’ legal father by means of adoption.” (The Women’s Bible Commentary; Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, Editors.  Westminster/John Knox Press Louisville, Kentucky)

Life rarely goes the way we imagine it will go.  Growing up as the oldest of eight children, I assumed that I too would have many children.  It never occurred to me that I would become a parent any other way than what I had experienced through the births of my own siblings and countless cousins.  Pregnancy however did not occur easily despite countless fertility tests and major surgery.

When an opportunity to adopt a baby (born on Valentine’s Day no less) came unexpectedly our way with only two days’ notice, we were both euphoric and shaken by the responsibility.  We wondered if we would be good parents, know what to do and/or give him what he needed.   I imagine that Mary and Joseph experienced the same type of emotions and asked the same exact questions after the angel appeared to her and then to him instructing Joseph not to be “…afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.”  As they stepped into parenthood in a way that they could never have imagined…they too must have experienced great joy/euphoria and a strong sense of uncertainty.

Adoption has been an incredible gift.  We continually pray for the women who gave birth to our two adopted sons and entrusted them to us.  We will be forever grateful and humbled.  Those women are always in our hearts as we have loved, encouraged, and been inspired by these amazing young men as they have grown into adulthood. They were eventually joined by our third son who was another improbable surprise — God’s call also included a biological baby that we never thought would happen. 

Today as we celebrate the birth of Mary, it’s an opportunity to remember that we are all called by God in ways that we may not have imagined.  We won’t know how our next call may come but I hear God whispering, trust in me.


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