Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The mother made by the child

The other day, as I listened to a programme on the radio, there was an interesting remark made by its presenter. She is, apparently, a well-known theologian, although I’d never heard of her. As she talked, she made the point that, although the mother makes the child in her womb, in a very real sense, it is the mother who is made by the child.

I had to stop and think about that. “The mother is made by the child”. It sounds a complete contradiction of ideas. Then I realised that a woman only becomes a mother when she has a child. It is true, therefore, that her child makes a mother. Mary only became a mother because of her son, Jesus.

I often stop to think what Mary must have been like. We know she lived in a small, insignificant town in Galilee. People in Jerusalem despised Galileans. They had a strong accent. They lived in an area where they met many foreign traders. Many people were uneducated.

Mary was a village girl. She was probably unable to read or write. She lived an ordinary village life, so she knew all about the problems of fetching water from the well, looking for firewood for cooking and all the other daily concerns of village life.

Just as in any village anywhere in the world, the people of Nazareth knew everybody else’s business. They knew Mary was engaged to a carpenter by the name of Joseph. They knew that Mary was pregnant before she was actually married to him. They probably gossiped about Mary and Joseph without knowing the real story about the visit from the angel.

Mary probably heard some of the whispering as she went to the well. She probably wished she could put the record straight and tell everyone her wonderful secret: that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God. However, if she had told the people of Nazareth the truth, would they have believed her? If Joseph had let them know that an angel had also appeared to him, encouraging him to marry Mary, would his neighbours have believed him?

Very often we believe what we imagine we see without taking the trouble to find out if that is the full story. How often have we believed the gossip someone has whispered to us? How often has the gossip seemed more interesting than the truth?

In the case of Mary and Joseph, the truth was far more interesting than the gossip. There are many young women in the world who become pregnant before they are married. There has only ever been one who was pregnant with the Son of God. There have been many young men who have wondered whether or not they should marry a woman who has been found to be pregnant with someone else’s child. There has only been one man who was asked to marry the Mother of God and to become the foster-father of the Son of God.

Today let us pray for all those who are the victims of gossip, who are not believed when they tell the truth to their families and neighbours. We pray that they might have the courage and strength of Mary and Joseph. We pray for all mothers, especially those who, this Christmas, will be expecting their first baby. Grant them, Lord, a safe birth. Amen

God bless,

Sr. Janet