MAN AND WOMAN IN THE CHRISTMAS STORY

 

the-annunciation

The Annunciation

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

 

Because on our calendars Christmas is a one-day observance, we don’t think about Mary’s Journey. Her journey began when the Angel Gabriel announces to her the mystery and God completes his promise in her.

It is a problematic and terrifying announcement. There are many social ramifications to overcome. But first, Mary must tell Joseph, the man to whom she is betrothed, about her condition. What a shock! What can Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, do now?  Because he must go, Mary and Joseph will leave for Bethlehem and their mysteriously conceived child arrives in the hay and odors barnyard.

 

the-visitation-in-blue

The Visitation in Blue – Maurice Denis

 

Before Mary left her home for distant Bethlehem and became the wife of an older man, another trip comes first; Mary wants to visit another woman who is about to give birth. It is important to remark on this bond between women that men can in no way understand or experience. The relationship of sisterhood is often stronger than the bond of brotherhood. Men, too often, do not seek companionship together to discuss critical personal matters. They also don’t have the burden of childbirth and the care of children after they are born.

Thus, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth to tell her the news that is difficult to share with others in her community. Elizabeth knows what Mary is trying to say. She understands Mary’s problem; no, more than understands, she “feels” the power of Mary’s news in her womb.

stock-photo-ghent-belgium-december-stained-glass-depicting-saint-joseph-holding-a-lily-and-543576517

Ghent Window – St. Joesph (Photo by Jivoso)

 

Yes, of course, Joseph is a good man who had not condemned Mary for what might probably initially thought of as an “indiscretion.”  But he is not eager to talk with a trusted relative or a trusted friend. Joseph keeps it all to himself. Like so many men, he can take care of the problem on his own. He doesn’t need help!

But he does need help.

Joseph is a devout Jew. He knows the Torah, the prophets, and the Psalms. Joseph is aware of the promise of a Messiah. Nevertheless, he can’t help but wonder about Mary and the baby she bore.

About a week after Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph take the infant boy to the temple in Jerusalem for a blessing and inclusion into Jewish tradition.

yegorov-simeon_the_righteous

St. Simeon

 

Simeon, an elderly holy man, greets them and then declares the infant Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Both Mary and Joseph are awestruck.

 

Elizabeth already knew Simeon in the temple was sure, but it took the whispered words of God to assure him.  Joseph finally understands. God had spoken to Joseph even before they left Nazareth, but he probably continued to doubt. The encounter with Simeon helped erase that doubt, and he faithfully takes on the role of father to the infant.

Joseph now knows that he did not marry an “indiscrete” woman to protect her reputation. Nor was she merely the young bride he needed to care for his family; no, none of that, he married Mother of God.

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