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The Virginal Birth of Jesus

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

We are in the habit of addressing Our Lady as the Blessed Virgin Mary. But we seldom ask ourselves “What do we mean?” By the title the Blessed Virgin Mary we mean that Jesus had no natural human father. We mean that Mary was truly married to Joseph but She was a virgin before conceiving Jesus, in conceiving Him, and after conceiving and giving birth to Christ. In other words, Mary was always a virgin.

Why a "Virgin" Mother?

Why was Jesus born of a virgin mother? The final answer is a mystery hidden in the mind of God. However, over the centuries, the Church has told us that Jesus was born of a virgin mother for three principal reasons. The main reason was to bring out the fact that Jesus as man had no natural human father. In other words Mary, and Mary alone, was the one who through the power of the Holy Spirit brought Her Son into the world.

Moreover, in this way the true divinity of Christ is made perfectly clear. Jesus did, indeed, have a natural Father. But His Father was the First Person of the Holy Trinity. Mary is therefore the Mother of God because She gave Her Son everything which a human mother gives the fruit of her womb. But only the eternal Father is the Father of Jesus. Our Lord made this clear when He said, “The Father and I are one.” On hearing this, the Jews picked up stones to stone the Savior because as they told Him, “You're only a man and you claim to be God” (Jn. 10:30, 33).

One more reason for the virginal birth of Jesus was to bring out the purpose of the Incarnation. God became man that we might be born again as children of God “not of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). The birth of Jesus of His virgin mother makes clear how we too are to be conceived and born, after the Spirit. We are conceived naturally of a human father but supernaturally of a virgin Church.

Spiritual Benefits from Jesus' Virginal Birth

How are we to benefit spiritually from the mystery of the virginal birth of Jesus?

  1. This mystery should make us realize how completely Mary, under God, was responsible for the Incarnation. It was Her will which responded freely to the will of God and thus made possible the Incarnation. Her human will alone cooperated with the will of God for God to become man and thus redeem the world.

  2. The virginal birth of Jesus shows us how powerful God is in doing what He wants provided we cooperate with His will.

  3. Finally, the virginal birth of Jesus shows us how pleasing chastity is to God. The sacrifice we make in practicing this virtue can work miracles in God’s providence for the salvation and sanctification of the world.

Vol. 39 - #6, November-December 1988, p. 12

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

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