The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos

nat-theotokos-2Today we celebrate the birth of the Mother of God, or Theotokos, one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church. Most of the direct references to her birth come from one of the apocryphal gospels, the Protoevangelium of James, which have been taken up and further developed in the liturgical texts of the Church. However, although the Scriptures do not refer to the actual birth of the Mother of God, they are full of indirect references to it, for the whole history of the Old Testament is a preparation for the coming Christ into our world. And a key part of this preparation was the preparation of the one who was to give birth to the Son of God. In the words of Saint Andrew of Crete:

The radiant and bright coming-down of God for people ought to possess a joyous basis, opening to us the great gift of salvation. Such like also is the present feast day, having as its basis the Nativity of the Mother of God, and as its purposeful end the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles, unceasingly proclaimed, immeasurable and incomprehensible. The less comprehensible it is, the more it is revealed; and the more it is revealed, the less comprehensible it is. Wherefore the present God-graced day, the first of our feast days, showing forth the light of virginity and as it were the crown woven from the unfading blossoms of the spiritual garden of Scripture, doth proffer creatures a common joy. Be of good cheer it says, behold, this is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin and of the renewal of the human race! The Virgin is born, she grows and is raised up and prepares herself to be the Mother of God All-Sovereign of the ages. All this, with the assistance of David, makes it for us an object of spiritual contemplation. The Mother of God manifests to us Her God-bestowed Birth, and David points to the blessedness of the human race and wondrous co-kinship of God with mankind.

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