What would have become of us without this woman?

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Mary’s story contains a truth that we must never forget: We are not interchangeable.

Today’s readings can be found here.

The feast of Mary’s Nativity does not answer the question “how was Mary born,” but rather answers another question: “What would have become of us without this woman?”

Some might be shocked at this line of thinking because it seems to overemphasize the importance of this woman, almost elevating her to the heights of God. But this is not an exaggeration, because Mary’s story contains a truth that we must never forget: We are not interchangeable.

God, in order to accomplish his redemption, makes himself need this woman. Her “yes” or “no” is not without consequences. God could have chosen anyone, but he entrusts the birth of his Son to this woman.

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The flesh and blood of Jesus is the flesh and blood of Mary. Jesus’ surname (lineage) is certainly that of Joseph, but his concreteness is that of Mary. In this sense Mary’s life is not interchangeable; it is a unique, unrepeatable, precious life.

But if this is true for her then it is also true for each of us.

We are not the fruit of chance, and if we are born it is because like Mary we bear a purpose that only we can fulfill. In a sense, we look at this woman’s story so that each of our stories may resemble hers: Just as she brought into the world the “reason for the story,” Jesus, so we have a duty to bring into the world, with our lives, choices and situations that are charged with meaning.

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Today we celebrate her by saying that she is unique, and thus we say something about ourselves: We too are unique and called to accomplish something unique. 

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Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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