We remember the birthdays of those who are significant in our lives. We also remember the birthdays of significant people in our spiritual lives. The most crucial figure for Christians is undoubtedly our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we commemorate on Christmas Day.
Next in importance to Jesus in the spiritual lives of many Christians is Mary, His mother. While we can't ascertain her exact birth date, September 8th is traditionally the day to celebrate her birth.
Traditional teachings, encapsulated in the hymns and verses of the Sharagans, tell us that Joachim and Anna were a devout couple among a small, faithful remnant—often described as "the poor and the needy"—who eagerly awaited the promised Messiah. Despite their advanced age and childlessness, they fervently prayed for a child. As a reward for their steadfast faith, God blessed them with a daughter, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of Christ, the Messiah due to her own goodness and sanctity.
When we wish someone a happy birthday, we are, in a sense, giving thanks for that person’s birth and life. Today, we give thanks for Mary’s birth and life. And we celebrate Mary’s birth and life because of Jesus because she became the mother of the Savior. She is the one through whom we receive Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Mary doesn’t offer us herself; she offers us her Son. She holds out her Son to us. She would have been happy to make her own the words of John the Baptist in relation to himself: “He, Jesus, must increase, but I must decrease.”
The best way to honor Mary is to receive the Son of God whom she offers to us, to become, like herself, people who, in the words of Luke’s gospel, “hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance” (Luke 8:15).
Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan