By Br John Venard FMS
AT Christmas we honour Jesus as Son of God and Mary as his Mother.
However we should remember that while on earth, for most of the time, they both led a normal human life and so are ideal models for us battlers in today’s world.
During Advent, it would be worthwhile to reflect how Mary coped as an ordinary mother during her pregnancy.
I asked some mothers to share their pregnancy experiences. “Excitement, anxiety, sickness, insomnia, heartburn, incredible love, butt of jokes – Sumo wrestler, Frankenstein feet, finding clothes that fit, urging the baby to hurry up; above all an overwhelming sense of love and a fierce protection for the baby, giving life to a being that will live forever, feeling an affinity with God, a true miracle” – were some of the comments made.
One said that when her last daughter was born she looked completely different from her other children.
Her sister, always a joker, quietly asked if her husband was the father.
Fortunately family trust was such that everyone knew it was a joke.
My sister Therese was a first grandchild so there was much excitement.
Dad’s sisters, noted torments, had warned Mum there was mixed blood in their family and they hoped it would not show up in her baby.
When Therese was born, she was a beautiful plump baby, but she had yellow jaundice and her skin was a pasty yellow colour.
Mum cried and cried; it took days of damage control to convince her it was only a joke. Dad and my grandparents were not amused.
Mary, to all appearances, was a normal Jewish teenager and would have had to cope with similar experiences.
She was betrothed to Joseph but not living with him when he noticed she was pregnant.
The Apostle Matthew tells us: Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. (Matthew 1:19)
Joseph is told in a dream that the “child conceived within Mary is from the Holy Spirit” and this clears it up for him but it was not made public and so the locals think of, and treat her as an unmarried teenage mother.
Things do not go smoothly for her.
Then she learns that her relative Elizabeth is with child so she sets out in haste to undertake a difficult and dangerous journey to the hill country. Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth gives us an insight into her deep, joyful spirituality and trust in God.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour … for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46, 49)
When Mary’s time was almost up, she and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, a rugged journey of about three days.
Joseph and Mary, needing privacy above all else, get accommodation in a stable and this is where Jesus is born.
It is an omen of what Jesus and Mary will have to cope with in future years.
So during Mary’s pregnancy, although she is aware of the honour, she has to battle her way through the usual trials, just like the mothers above. She is indeed a model for us in today’s world.
As we go to her with our troubles and anxieties, see her smile lovingly as she comments, “Been there, done that” and then from her motherly wisdom, she would share with us how to cope with our modern world, “Trust in a God of unconditional love. It worked for me.”