In a small town in Nazareth (a very unlikely place for the messianic era to begin), lived a pretty little girl named Mary. One bright sunny day,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a young virgin who was betrothed to Joseph, of the family of David. He came to her and said, “Rejoice full of Grace, the Lord is with you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call Him Jesus. (Luke 1:26-28,31)
As a betrothed wife, Mary would have remained living with her own family away from her husband for up to a year until the second step of marriage took place (according to the Jewish tradition). But now, she was to bear a child. How would she have managed to tell her parents about this? Would they believe this mysterious story? And news like this might have spread like wild fire, since even Joseph got to know that she was with a child, because of which, he decided to break their marriage off in secrecy. How heart broken she would’ve been for no fault at all.
Luke 1:56 Mary remained with Elizabeth about 3 months and then returned home.
According to medical studies, the 1st trimester of child birth, is the most difficult time, where morning sickness, nausea, cramps, mood swings and other symptoms make mothers irritable and cause them to lie in bed. But Mary! She served her old cousin Elizabeth during that time, doing all the household chores and aiding her cousin in whatever way was possible, mentioning neither her needs nor her condition.
Luke 2:1,4-5 At that time Emperor Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. Joseph too set out from Nazareth. As he belonged to the family of David, being a descendant of his, he went to Judea to David’s town of Bethlehem5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with a child.
They would have travelled this journey by either of the two routes (about 90 miles long that would take about 5 days)- one which would have taken them south across the Jezreel Valley, then through the hills of Samaria into Judaea, and the second, southeast across the Jezreel Valley, connecting with the Jordan Valley, then all the way to Jericho and up through the Judaean Desert to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The first route was via Samaria, and since
Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other (John 4:9)
they may have struggled to make it through, while the other route was an indirect one, through depressions and elevations, and the only way to travel was on foot or with the help of a donkey or camel. Either way, their path was sprinkled with millions of thorns.
Mary might have been in so much of pain and discomfort, during those last few days before Jesus was to be born, making the journey even longer and tiresome for them due to the rest she might’ve needed.
Luke 2:6-7 They were in Bethlehem when the time came for her to have to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
If I were in Mary’s place, I’d have grumbled and complained to God- it was His plan to send Jesus into this world and I said yes to Him, and yet, I had to go through so much when He could have made it so simple indeed, ’cause in the end, Jesus was THE SON OF GOD. He was King- and Kings are born in palaces. But Mary! I stand in awe of her. She was truly the most blessed among all women (Luke 1:42). Her patient endurance of trials, her silent bearing of pain is the reason why we have Christmas today!
Luke 2:16 So the shepherds went hurriedly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby lying in the manger.
After a big day filled with travel, pain and exhaustion, unkown strangers, mere shepherds coming to visit them, coupled with the hostile conditions by virtue of the cold weather and the hard floor of the stable; being in so much of discomfort, I’d probably have dozed off and shunned those people away or I’d have told them to come back in the morning. But Mary! She welcomed them, listened to what they had to say about the angel’s message (Luke 2:9-14) and as Luke 2:19 says,
as for Mary, she treasured all these words and continually pondered over them.
Ever wondered what would have happened if Mama Mary had to give up midway? There’d be December without Christmas: no caroling, no sparkle around, no gifts and most of all, NO CHRIST… that means no Easter too, cause there wouldn’t have been a resurrection without Jesus being born, and that would make us, THE FAITHLESS, cause there could not have been Christianity without Christ (you can’t even pronounce it that way).
The season of advent draws us to focus on and to cultivate these virtues of hope, love, joy and peace, and who else can we look up to, to aid us in this pursuit than our dear Mama Mary. She’s been through it all, and emerged victorious. The HOPE she had in the word, made it flesh. The LOVE of God and of her son Jesus that she nurtured in her heart put her in the path of God’s overflowing grace. The JOY she brought into the life of her family, her cousin, Joseph and all around her, was because she remained joyous and had a heart of praise even in the most difficult moments of her life, and in the end, her patience and PEACE gave the world the ultimate,
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
“All the sins of your life seem to be rising up against you. Don’t give up hope! On the contrary, call your holy mother Mary, with the faith and abandonment of a child. She will bring peace to your soul.”
-Saint Josemaria Escriva
Remember, Mary was just a young teenager when life’s greatest secrets and struggles were revealed to her. God was with her, His Grace helped her through all of this and now she stands as THE MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES!
Let us call out to Mama Mary as we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Saviour in this Advent season. She is already waiting to love us and guide us, with her arms open wide. Let our prayer be like that of St Teresa,
“Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now”