As Advent hustles us towards Christmas and we eagerly await the birth of the Christ Child, my mind once again turn to his mother.
What do we really know about her? I think about her as I go about my day. I dream about her.
So I tried to walk her path so long ago.
Luke 1:28 “And having come in, the angel said to her:
“Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.”
“Having come in” implies she was in the house.
Was she cleaning? Did she drop the broom or dust cloth in fear?
Was she cooking?
Was she mending something?
Was she tending a younger sibling?
Did she even have siblings?
And if “having come in” is a faulty translation and she was outside –
Was she in the garden?
Was she picking figs or dates to have at their evening meal?
Was she tending the family goat?
Was she hanging out washing to dry?
WHAT was this young teenager doing? (I’ve pegged her at age thirteen.)
Did she even really believe what this fearsome messenger of God had told her?
I don’t believe she said a word to her parents or Joseph. What could she say?
“I’m going to have a baby and he’s the Promised Messiah.”
No, I believe she was as quiet as a mouse.
But then she missed her period. And now it was real. She was pregnant.
And I believe she did what teenagers throughout the years have done. She turned to a close friend, in this case, also a cousin.
Did she walk? Did she have donkey to ride? Ninety miles is a long way.
Scared, embarrassed, maybe suffering from morning sickness.
But Elizabeth, already six months along, understood and believed her.
We don’t know if Mary waited until Elizabeth’s baby was born. Either way, she stayed three months. Maybe she was even showing by now. And the time had come to face the music.
To tell her parents. To tell Joseph. To face the neighbors.
The humiliation. The finger-pointing. Nazareth was a village. Everybody probably knew everybody else.
But Joseph does marry her. And I can’t help but notice that the Gospel of Matthew makes quite a fuss of Joseph (Matt 1:19-21) but merely gives Mary a nod of recognition.
Matt 1:18. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
And Mark doesn’t mention her at all but hits the ground running with the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan!
But back to our Mary. Heavily pregnant at nine months they set off for Bethlehem to be registered.
She’s tired. Her feet maybe swollen. Uncomfortable on their donkey. Swaying from side to side. Bumped about on an uneven road.
Her water breaks. Labor starts. The pain is intense. In the distance she can see the lights of the town. All she wants to do is lie down!
And in the Little Town of Bethlehem the only place they find shelter is a stable.
Giving birth is a messy business. Probably nearby was a trough with clean drinking water for the animals so Joseph could her clean her and the baby.
She’s holding her first-born. The Christ Child.
Where on earth did she find clean swaddling clothes to wrap him?
It’s a baby. He’s fully human. He needs diaper changes. She needs nourishment to keep up her strength to feed the Christ Child.
Did the kind innkeeper step in?
Did his wife send over a meal to the young couple?
Could one of the cows supply some milk?
Did Joseph have some bread and figs in his bag?
Did the gentle stable sounds provide a lullaby for the Christ Child?
Did Mary count His fingers and toes like all mothers do?
And with one finger stroke the downy fuzz on His head?
And decide He’s the most beautiful baby in the world?
And bringing him to her breast seal a Mother/Child bond that nothing can break?
No, we know very little about Mary. But there was something about her. Something that made God decide this teenager was worthy of carrying and birthing His Son.
Thus, spare a thought for Mary as she makes her weary way towards Bethlehem.
Cyber hugs and Blessings All.