“And Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word ” (Luke 1: 38).
We believe that the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary took place at the moment she said “Yes” to God. That is why the feast of the Annunciation is placed on March 25th, nine months before Christmas. How old was Mary at the time? We don’t really know, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating. The minimum age for marriage under Jewish law is 13 for boys, 12 for girls. The official betrothal (far more binding than our modern era understanding of engagement) could take place a year prior to the full-fledged marriage. The Talmud recommends that a man marry by the age of 18. Therefore, it would not have been unusual for Mary to have been betrothed to Joseph by the age of 15.
Did Mary understand what it would mean to be mother of Jesus? That is the theme of one of my favorite Christian songs: “Mary did you know?” “Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water, that the child you delivered would one day deliver you..?” so run some of the lyrics of the song. Although we believe that Mary was given a special gift to never experience an attraction to things contrary to the will of God (her immaculate conception), that does not mean she received a gift of intellectual understanding regarding her son’s full identity and mission. Note how confused she was (Luke 2:49) when twelve-year old Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem and explained himself by saying “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” While this may at first seem to minimize the blessedness of Mary, it actually enhances my appreciation of her dedication to God and the divine will. Her ‘Yes’ was not based on understanding but on faith. St Augustine is quoted as saying “I believe, in order that I may understand.” First faith, then understanding.
A merry Christmas and happy New Year to all our parishioners!!