Monday, December 24, 2012

Mary the Mother of Jesus

I’ve always felt our Christmas celebrations pay too little attention to the mother, Mary. She played a magnificent role in the coming forth of the Son of Holiness and my own celebrating and worshiping is enhanced when I think of her. Two of my most meaningful Christmases were the ones when I gave birth to a baby in December. I remember wrapping my babies and thinking of Mary swaddling hers and imagining what she did and thought.

Most scholars believe she was young, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old, because it was the custom of the day to betroth a daughter when she began to menstruate. Other scholars argue that in New Testament times menstruation happened later, but even sixteen or seventeen is young.

Some have interpreted the verse, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19), to mean that Mary was bewildered and didn’t know what was going on. To me that is absurd. All of Mary’s life people had talked about the prophesied Messiah. She couldn’t have been unaware of the teachings and longing for a Messiah. But more than that, an angel appeared to tell her that she was going to bear the child, and then she found herself with child when she had never known a man. How could she not have known?

Of all people, Mary was the one who knew—not just believed but knew—that the Savior of the world had come and that He was indeed God's son. She knew the baby she had suffered so much pain to bring into the world was the long awaited Messiah. To me the fact that she kept the things in her heart indicates that she knew how sacred the events and happenings were and therefore she didn’t speak openly about them. Instead she kept the details to herself and pondered on them often.

Of all the women in the world, Mary was the one worthy and willing and ready to mother the Son of God. We are told she was a virgin. The word originally meant simply a young woman.

But the definitions now include, “an unmarried woman devoted to religion,” “a woman who has not had sexual intercourse,” and “a person who is inexperienced in a usually specified sphere of activity.” Mary fits all the definitions. The birth we celebrate was to a virgin who had never known a man, a virgin innocent and pure.

Perhaps that is the most important symbol of the Christmas season, for it is only in a pure and innocent heart that Christ can be born again.

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