Of course M is for Mary when you’re wandering through the bible for ABC Wednesday. What other person could it be?
Oh, which Mary you ask? Mary was a fairly common name in and around that era. And while I think Mary Magdalene is a fascinating woman in her own right, I’m talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
We met Mary briefly back when I told you about Gabriel. So let’s pick up the story there.
It was not uncommon for young teenage girls to be betrothed to older men back in the day. Mary was no exception. The families voted and after a few after-dinner toasts, Joseph agreed to take Mary for his wife. We don’t know how many years separated them, but my guess is that it was significant since the only way a woman could guarantee a secure future was to get married to a man of means. Joseph was an established carpenter and business was probably pretty darn good in town.
So Mary is sprawled across her bed, pouring through Bride magazines, and dreaming about the latest appliances in her new house when Gabriel appears and royally (literally and figuratively) turns her life up-side-down and inside-out. God has decided she is to have a child and name him Jesus. All before the wedding.
Excuse me? I’m sorry, I really can’t do that. There’s protocol to follow and this is completely out of order for a Jewish woman like myself. Joseph will probably break the engagement and I’ll disgrace my family. No, tell God thank you, but I need to pass on this one.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Mary accepted the archangel’s message. But, this is what she also accepted.
* the stigma of being an unwed, pregnant, Jewish teenager in biblical Jerusalem
* the fact that her reputation as a proper Jewish woman was forever tarnished
* the probability that she shamed her family by her *situation*
* the risk of losing her future security when sharing the news with Joseph
* the risk of damaging Joseph’s reputation among his buddies if he chooses to stay with her
* to accept the whispers, shaking heads and cold stares of neighbors when they find out
* to watch the son you gave birth to labeled a lunatic, heretic, be tortured and ultimately put to death in a horrific execution
You see, there wasn’t really an *up* side to this deal. Except that she had been hand-picked by God to be part of something remarkable. Mary had great faith that her God was not leading her into anything she couldn’t handle…with his help. That, if he brought her to it, he would bring her through it.
God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.
That seems to be the way he rolls. Not one to pander to society’s pious rules, he always seems to pick the most unlikely candidates to make his point. After all, who really would expect the illegitimate son of a common carpenter and teenager girl to turn out to be the person who forever changed the course of history?
Really. If you were going to all the trouble of inventing a religion, would you seriously center it around the likes of an unknown, unwed, teenage girl; a gender considered to be a second-class citizen on top of that? Who in their right mind would take her story seriously?
Yet, here we are, more than 2,000 years later…still talking about her…seriously.
Have you ever wondered what it was like for Mary? To watch her son, Jesus, grow up? To watch him die? These videos probably come close to showing us what it was like for her. Grab the tissues. If you don’t tear up watching these, something is terribly wrong with you.
If you made it through the first one dry-eyed, I guarantee you won’t with this one.
I only have one question today.
What kind of faith do you have in the face of uncertainty?