I only recently was introduced to the “gender reveal” custom, even though it’s a trend that’s been around for a few years already. With the new ultrasound technology, medical professionals can ascertain whether a child in the womb is a boy or girl with some degree of accuracy. Knowing a child’s gender ahead of the birth has its advantages in terms of name choosing and gift giving. I’m told that lots of parents hold gender reveal parties as a way of celebrating the new life. I think that’s a beautiful tribute to the child about to be born.

Ultrasounds didn’t exist in Biblical times. Nonetheless, the Blessed Virgin Mary did have a gender reveal of significant magnitude. It appears in the Book of Genesis as God speaks to the snake (Satan) after he’s discovered that Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.

Then the LORD God said to the snake:
Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel. (Gen 3: 14-15)

The woman to whom God refers is none other than Mary – a woman who would not be born until centuries later. Indeed, she wasn’t simply “a” woman, but she was and is “the” woman. The child whose gender God reveals in the Garden of Eden would become the mother of Christ and the woman who would be victorious against Satan and all his minions.

How’s that for a gender reveal party?

September 8 is the day that the Catholic Church observes as the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I celebrate Mary’s birthday, I can’t help but think about Sts. Joachim and Anne as expectant parents, awaiting the birth of their beautiful baby. I can imagine them wondering what their baby would look like, act like, who their baby would resemble and, of course, what gender the child would be. I also can imagine that, if they lived in the present age, Mary’s dad and mom quite possibly would have a gender reveal party to celebrate their baby girl’s God-given identity.

In a sense, God took care of that himself, didn’t he?

Mary was, is, and always be “the” woman, chosen from among all women for all time, to become the Mother of the Redeemer and his Co-Redemptrix. Her message and mission is vital to all of humanity for all eternity. Without her “yes,” Jesus would not have become the Incarnate Word and salvation history would have been quite different. In that respect, her gender is of the utmost importance.

What better reason to celebrate the birthday of “the” woman – Mary – who so willingly became instrument of our salvation? Not only do we have reason to be grateful that she was born, but we have great reason to be grateful that she was born a woman.

That is a gender reveal like none other.

Happy Birthday, dear Mother Mary!