Catholics mark the birthday of Mother Mary in September. A person who was called ‘favoured’ and ‘blessed among women’.
Mary’s ‘blessing’ meant being asked to become the virgin mother of the Messiah when she was barely a teenager, facing the uncertainty of her fiance Joseph’s reaction, being harried on donkeys while pregnant and while fleeing to Egypt with her newborn, being refused a place at the inn and giving birth in a manger. I wonder if any one of us have tried to comprehend just how smelly a cattle shed is and how difficult that journey on a donkey would have been for that young pregnant mum and her faithful husband, when we set out our pricey Christmas decorations. Our Saviour was born – not in a multi-specialty air-conditioned hospital room, but to a young teenage girl and to a step dad whose only qualification was that he was just too devoted to God. Simple village folk – a carpenter and his young bride. But their ‘yes’ mattered to God, it fit in His Master plan. Mary’s ‘blessing’ also meant losing her son in the crowds and bearing the stress to do with it for three whole days with a loving and worried Joseph, when Jesus was twelve. It also included watching her darling son stumbling through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying a heavy cross, with no Joseph by her side anymore. Would she have struggled to make sense of the angel’s greeting and what actually followed years later? I wonder if our Mamma ever thought what kind of a ‘blessing’ was that!
Yet, Mary was found with the disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended upon them as fire. This young mother was praying still, and clinging on to God’s promises.
The simple, humble and trusting way in which Mary stoically faced confusion, anxiety, disappointment, and terrible grief – can give us immense comfort and strength.
Practise the tenacious faith our mother. It does not come easy, but it makes life worth living.
Happy birthday, Mamma.