It is so easy to forget that Mary was a young woman like me. She had dreams and hopes for her future. Never once could she have guessed that God would choose her to be the mother of Jesus. Never could she have imagined the joy and sorrow her life would hold.
I like to imagine that it was just another ordinary day. Mary was joyfully doing everyday chores. She may even have been dreaming of her soon to be marriage to Joseph and how her life would change when she became his wife. I can see her now. She was humming a sweet little tune as she swept the floor. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes held that sparkle. She may have been dreaming of holding her first child. Rocking the wee one and singing a lullaby. She cared not whether she had a boy or a girl. She knew she would be overjoyed with either. Right in the midst of these thoughts Gabriel arrived on the scene.
Mary must have been shocked and confused about why Gabriel was and there, and who he was. Imagine her further shock when Gabriel said,
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son..."
"What? What did you just say? A baby? Me, have a baby? Me? Are you sure you have the right Mary?" I can just imagine her saying. "Why me? Of all the women in the world, why me?" She must have wondered.
What impresses me is that she did not throw a fit or complain the least little bit about how this news would ruin all she had planned (as I feel sure I would have been tempted to do). No, she stood back in awe and said:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever" (Luke 1:46-55).
There is so much unsaid. So many aspects of the story that are not covered. Every year when I re-read the story of Christ's birth I come away with so many questions. What was Mary's parents reaction to the news? What did they say and do?
It seems likely that Mary would have been shunned by certain groups of people because only the worst sorts of women became pregnant out of wedlock. When I think of all that Mary had to go through. All the hardships, all the sorrow and pain, I am determined that she was indeed a woman of great faith. A woman who leaned on the Lord through it all. How else would she have been able to bear it?
I sometimes wish that the Bible's account would have been longer and more detailed. For surely there is a lot that we could learn from Mary, mother of Jesus, chosen by God.
This Christmas I encourage you to make your own study of Mary. To put yourself in her shoes. To imagine all that she went through and ask yourself if you could have had faith such as she did. Ask yourself how you would have dealt with raising a Son that others would mock and scorn, a Son who would be unjustly crucified. Read between the lines and learn about a woman who was truly strong.