Hi Folks and Happy New Year to all of you. Well now, the Christmas Octave has been one wild, week long journey, has it not? We left the depot wrapped with the peace, joy and love of Christmas Day, and our first stop was at the stoning execution of the first martyr, St. Stephen. We got a day off and then stopped at the massacre of the Holy Innocents, moved on to the murder of St. Thomas Becket, celebrated the Holy Family, and finished our trip today, with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Paradoxical or what?
We have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones I believe), and she is the greatest of all saints. She has been spared from original sin, and was taken into heaven body and soul, never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom, and a housewife. I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our heavenly Mom.
Don’t forget, this woman had survived the possibility of execution by stoning because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn’t Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law, and she knew the penalty. Her life was out of her hands, and her fate thrust into the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy, she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census. She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem) and the countless contractions she must have had along the way, to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay. She winds up giving birth in a stable with smelly animals, lots of straw, no running water, and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after awhile word comes to them that Herod wants to kill her baby. Hey all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain which she would have to grind into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days). Of course, there was the laundry. Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald’s either. Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day and and ultimately transpose into the Greatest Story Ever Told. You have to LOVE IT, from Beginning to Never-Ending.