According to the ancient tradition of the Church, the Theotokos was born of barren and aged parents, Joachim and Anna, about the year 16 or 17 before the birth of Christ. Joachim was descended from the royal line of David, of the tribe of Judah. Anna was of the priestly tribe of Levi, a daughter of the priest Matthan and Mary, his wife.
The birth of the Theotokos is remembered right here at the beginning of the Church calendar. It is through this feast that we first pass. Her birth, like her life and death points only to our Lord Jesus Christ. She was prepared by her family to be able to respond to God’s question when it came to her. We remember her birth today and look at our own birth and life on earth. We are born to say “Yes” to God. She said, “Yes” to give birth to God the Word and we are asked the same thing. Will we give birth to God the Word in our hearts, minds and souls?
The Mother of God was prepared by her ancestors who had gone before her, to be able, herself, to be in her whole life this one word to the LORD: “Yes.” Her whole life even until now is all “Yes” to the LORD. When the Archangel Gabriel came to her, and told her that she would conceive, she said: “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34). She did ask the question; but, nevertheless she said, as it were: Let it be done to me according to God’s will [cf. Luke 1:38]. In everything, she said: Be it done to me according to God’s will. To be the Mother of God was not just a glorious gift, and a glorious service (although there is glory involved), because everything that has to do with our life in God has to do first of all with love, God’s love, God’s open, self-emptying, self-sacrificing love. This way of life involves pain. As we know in the case of the Mother of God, great pain was hers, and most especially at the time of the Crucifixion of her Son. At the same time, great joy was hers at the Resurrection from the dead of her Son three days later. Here, again, is an important connection for us to remember. There may be a lot of pain involved in following in the footsteps of Christ, but there is always joy. There is always light. There is always life. There is always victory, because the LORD is the LORD, after all. The LORD is the LORD of the whole universe. The LORD is the LORD of our lives. Archbishop SERAPHIM
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness; Adam and Eve of the corruption of death. And so your people, free of the guilt of their sins, celebrate crying: “The barren one gives birth to the Theotokos, who nourishes our life.”