Having one's birthday on one of the greatest feasts of the Christian year has always inevitably increased my interest in the Christian calendar and some of the unique concepts connected with the way some of the most important cosmic events have been dated. Obviously no one knows the exact date of the incarnation with any kind of certainty, but its celebration on March 25, the Annunciation of the Lord, has long been one of the high points of the Church's calendar. Whenever March 25 is also Good Friday (as happened most recently in 2016 but won't happen again until 2157), we are reminded that, at least since the 3rd century, March 25 was often thought to be both the anniversary of the Annunciation (and therefore of conception of Christ, the Incarnation of the Son of God as Son of Mary) and of the Crucifixion (because it seemed only appropriate that Christ's earthly life should have constituted a perfect circle with his dying on the same date as he had been conceived). Clearly that represents a kind of spiritual and symbolic thinking to which our ancient and medieval ancestors naturally gravitated, but which we spiritually and symbolically impoverished moderns inevitably find somewhat alien and incomprehensible. Hence, horrible ideas like a fixed date of Easter have acquired a currency in our rationalistic, modern world which they would never have had for our ancient and medieval ancestors.
In their mindset, it wasn't enough that March 25 frame Jesus' life and death from conception to cross. It also became in some calculations the symbolic "eighth day of creation," the beginning of eternity. In that case, of course, one could count back a week and identify each of the actual seven days of creation, starting with March 18, the first day when God's word Fiat lux separated the light from the darkness. While this was not the only scheme for calculating the date of creation (October competed with March in some alternative calculations), this one was very popular, so much so that some calendars identified March 18 as the first day of the world.
All this reminds us that time - earthly time, human time - has been sanctified by God's design and infinitely enriched in meaning by God's direct entry into our world and its time in the incarnation of his Son. In this ultimate sense, nothing is really random. Rather, the structures of the universe themselves reflect the Creator's purposes for his creatures. And we creatures, having been endowed with rational faculties, can exercise our human reason to discover in time God's purposes for us.
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