Today, nine months after the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate Mary’s birthday. Happy Birthday Blessed Mother! When we are children, birthdays are a really big deal, complete with parties, presents, treats at school, and all sorts of expectation and excitement. Once we pass a certain threshold of adulthood, birthdays become less anticipated, and we often wish we could ignore them altogether. This year the Blessed Mother celebrates over two thousand years of earthly and eternal life, but somehow I don’t think she is worried about people knowing her age!

When I think about the Blessed Mother as my role model, what strikes me is her courage, her sense of self, and her total surrender to God’s will. It must have taken extraordinary bravery to become the Mother of God. As a teenage girl in a culture where women had few rights, Mary was sure of her value and her importance. This courage and confidence allowed her to give a complete “yes” to God and become the mother of Jesus.

As we pray through the Gospel today, ask: What about Mary inspires me? What challenges me? How can I be more like her: courageous and joyful in my “yes” to God’s plan?

—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.