Each of us have experienced the joy of knowing someone who has found out that they were going to be a mother. What a great delight! The thrill of bringing life into the world is indeed a blessing. On the eighth day of September our holy Church celebrates the Nativity of the Theotokos. Her parents, Anna and Joachim, had waited so long to become parents. They were embarrassed in their community, because they lived in a culture that looked upon childlessness as a punishment from God. How did this elderly couple respond? They did not react with bitterness or with anger. They humbly prayed to God to answer their entreaties. Joachim fasted and prayed. Anna prayed to be blessed by God as was Sarah. Both prayers were heard and as two angels announced the news of the coming birth to Anna, her response was to pledge her child to the Lord. Joachim’s reaction was to bring the best of his flocks to the Temple as an offering to the Lord God.
St. John of Damascus declare in his Oration on the Nativity of the Theotokos Mary: “- …by how much more ought we to honour the Nativity of the Theotokos, through whom the whole human race has been restored [and] through whom the pain of our ancestress Eve has been transformed to joy? For whereas the latter heard the divine statement, “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3, 16) the former [heard], “Rejoice favoured one!” (Luke 1, 28). The latter [heard], “Your recourse shall be towards your husband!” (Gen. 3, 17) and the former, “The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1, 28)*
The new Eve is born and humanity is on the road to restoration. Through Anna and Joachim’s prayers; God answered the prayers of mankind. The Lord prepared the way for the incarnation. Anna was the daughter of Matthan, the priest of the tribe of Levi; and Joachim the son of tribe of David. The priestly and the royal linage meet in the person of Mary. The Throne of the Most High has been provided for the coming of the messiah, a throne higher than the Cherubim… Hail, Oh Bride Unweded!
* Wider Than Heaven: Eighth-Century Homilies on the Mother of God. Translated by and introduction: Mary B. Cunningham. Edited by John Behr. Vol. 35, Popular Patristics Series. Crestwood NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008.