Mary was blessed among women.
She was humble and faithful.
Yes, yes, and yes.
I’m going to go out on a limb here:
I’m not sure she was spilling with joyful, exuberant happiness for her entire pregnancy.
Did she have faith? Yes.
Did she have happiness? Not necessarily always.
This immaculate conception is the blessing of Christmas, the foundation of Christianity, the gift to the world, but I imagine in Mary’s family, it was also a crisis of grand proportions.
She was 13 years old. She was betrothed to Joseph, and in that day and culture, betrothal was as close to marriage as any couple could come – without consummation and living together. She was his promised, she was his wife, even as they waited for their wedding day. He was responsible for her. She belonged to him. And she was inexplicably pregnant. Women were stoned for less than this.
(And I’ve often wondered why the cheating men weren’t.)
There were questions and assumptions in the community, and I’m sure she had specific questions and unknowns of her pregnancy – especially this being her first.
Here’s what I find exceptional in the story. (As if the whole blessed story isn’t exceptional.)
Mary’s relative (cousin or aunt… nobody’s sure) Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Her pregnancy was a miracle, too. She was barren and old, she had endured decades of infertility, a cultural disgrace. And the angel Gabriel came to her husband, Zechariah, to say: I know this seems unbelievable, but your wife is going to have a baby. Name him John.
(At which point Zeke asked a few questions and was henceforth put on silence until the baby’s birth.)
So when Mary learns that she is pregnant with the Christ child, she then learns too of Elizabeth’s pregnancy – also a miracle. And in the months when her life was most in danger over the questions and accusations of a virgin birth, Mary traveled to live with Elizabeth for three months, until Elizabeth gave birth to John.
What a gift, for Mary to watch and see, up close and personal, the ins and outs of pregnancy, from a woman who also had no biological explanation for this happening within her.
God paved the way, so that she may know.
And as he paved the way for her to know, he was growing John the Baptist within Elizabeth, who would be forever linked to Jesus: paving the way for the Messiah.
And the Messiah came, lived, died, and rose again,
so that we may know.
The whole thing really blows me away.