Today we celebrate the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the Ghvtismshobeli. The event is of great importance to Orthodox Christians in general, but because the Virgin Mary is the Patron of the Georgian Nation, it has become a national holiday.
The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time, when people had reached such limits of decay of moral values, that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them. The best minds of this era were aware and often said openly, that God must needs come down into the world, so as to restore faith and not tolerate the ruination of the race of mankind.
The Son of God chose for the salvation of mankind to take on human nature, and the All-Pure Virgin Mary, – alone worthy to contain in Herself and to incarnate the Source of purity and holiness, – He chose as His Mother.
The Birth of Our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, on this radiant day was born the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, – having been forechosen through the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God, and She is revealed as the Mother of the Saviour of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born in the small city of Galilee, Nazareth. Her parents were Righteous Joachim from the tribe of the King and Prophet David, and Anna from the tribe of the First-Priest Aaron. The couple was without child, since Saint Anna was barren. Having reached old age, Joakim and Anna did not lose hope on the mercy of God. They had strong faith that for God everything is possible, and that He would be able to solve the barrenness of Anna – even in her old age, as He had once solved the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of the Patriarch Abraham. Saints Joakim and Anna made a vow to dedicate the child which the Lord might bestow on them, into the service of God in the Temple.
Childlessness was considered among the Hebrew nation as a Divine punishment for sin, and therefore the righteous Saints Joakim and Anna had to endure abuse from their own countrymen. On one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem the elderly Joakim brought his sacrifice in offering to God, but the High Priest would not accept it, – considering him to be unworthy since he was childless. Saint Joakim in deep grief went into the wilderness and there he prayed with tears to the Lord for the granting of a child. Saint Anna, having learned about what had happened at the Jerusalem Temple, wept bitterly; never once did she complain against the Lord, but rather she prayed, asking God’s mercy on her family.
The Lord fulfilled her petitions when the pious spouses had attained to extreme old age and prepared themselves by virtuous life for a sublime calling – to be the parents of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, the future Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Archangel Gabriel brought Joakim and Anna the joyous message: their prayers were heard by God, and of them would be born a Most Blessed Daughter Mary, through Whom would come the Salvation of all the World. The Most Holy Virgin Mary of Herself in purity and virtue surpassed not only all mankind but also the Angels; – She was manifest as the Living Temple of God, such that the Church sings in its festal verses of song: “the Heavenly Gate, bringing Christ into the world for the salvation of our souls” (2nd Stikhera on “Lord, I have cried”, Tone 6).
The Birth of the Mother of God marks the change of the times, wherein the great and comforting promises of God begin to be fulfilled about the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil. This event has brought nigh to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, – a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue and life immortal. Our Mother First-Born of All Creation is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother, to Whom we steadfastly recourse with filial devotion.
Orthodox Liturgical Calendar of The St. John of Kronstadt Press