Monday, December 21
“Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus’…
and she gave birth to her first child, a son.
Luke 1:30-31 and 2:7 (The Living Bible)
The longest nine months in young Mary’s life! The faithful Jewish remnant had been waiting six centuries for the prophesied Messiah, but a chasm existed between theology and personal application. Gabriel’s message to Mary gave her an inkling of the profound event that lay ahead but her swelling belly, aching back, and sleepless nights are her current and very human reality.
Madeleine L’Engle beautifully captures what might have been Mary’s experience:
I know not all of that which I contain,
I’m small; I’m young; I fear the pain,
all is surprise: I am to be a mother,
that Holy Thing within me and not other
is Heaven’s King whose lovely Love will reign,
my pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body holds Creation’s Light;
its smallness shelters God’s unbounded might.
The angel came and gave, did not explain.
I know not all of that which I contain.
For some God occasionally reveals his plan with clarity. On occasion the call is clear enough to take calculated steps relying on continual guidance from the Holy Spirit. But the “nine months” between the call and the “giving birth” are frequently filled with what a 14th-century mystic called the “cloud of unknowing.”
There’s no going back. Labor pains will begin because pain is part of the process. know not all of that which I contain… But the promise is sure:
…(be) confident of this, that he who began a good work (in Mary and in you)
will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.