Mary, Mother of our Lord: Only you would know. You could only understand when an angel appears and tells you not to be afraid when that’s all you are. You’re terrified of what seems impossible. And yet, the angel reads your mind and assures you that nothing will be impossible with God.
The word hits you like a stone in your gut. Or at least, that’s how it hit me. In the fourth week of Advent, I sat with your faithful to study this story where an angel appears and tells you that you will be the Mother of our Lord. Their faith is strong. They believe you were a virgin. They are comforted by your submissiveness. They are encouraged by your faith. But, that’s not what I see. I hear something that I have never heard before in your familiar story. It wasn’t until today, when that phrase was read by one of your faithful, that I feared the impossible. It hit me right there.
Oh. My. God. I'm late.
My body should have purged that unused egg last week. Could it be? Could I really be pregnant? My heart seems about to beat out of my chest. I wondered if the faithful church members I serve could hear it. Could they see the panic on my face? No, they had no idea. It’s only you, Mary. Only you can possibly imagine my fear. Forgive me. I never understood. I was so intoxicated by the angel and lost in the mystery. It never occurred to me just how scared you might have been. Mary, I had no idea. I had no idea how scared you might have been. It wasn’t until now, when I face an unwanted pregnancy. Only now do I understand your fear. I knew you should be scared, but I never knew that fear myself. Oh Mary, forgive me.
Now, I understand. Now, I get it because stones might be thrown at me. Like you, I’m an unwed woman. I’m not ready to be a mother. Maybe you thought that too. You may have been just as unprepared as I find myself, but I don’t have your faith. There’s no angel to assure me. Instead, I fear the stones. They won’t kill me as they would have killed you. They’ll only bruise my ego and soul. You had more to fear. You weren’t just a young pastor falling in love with a Planned Parenthood down the street.
This makes me feel worse, because I never really gave Joseph a chance. He seemed like an accessory in the story. He never seemed all that important, but he was for you, wasn’t he? He was your protection, I know. But Mary, were you in love? I know you were betrothed and ready to be wed; but did you love him? Were you as overwhelmed by this feeling as I am? Maybe that’s why the angel made sense to you. You were in love, and so you knew that nothing could be impossible. You were swept up in the intensity of this emotion. It captivated you and overwhelmed you so that even though you were safe (though I can’t imagine what contraceptives were like in your time), you found yourself pregnant.
You accepted your role with such dignified faith. You became a servant. That’s what they’re talking about in Bible Study, but that’s not what fascinates me about you. I want to know about your fear. I want to know if you are as scared as I am. And though every iota of my faith in the child in your womb insists that I shouldn’t ask this question, I want to ask: did you consider aborting the child? Did you think of every doctor you’ve heard have that might perform such a surgery? Did you wonder if there was a safe place you could hide? Did you think of other women that have died trying to protect their own dignity?
Oh, Mary, forgive me. I never understood this part of the story. Now, I know why it’s only you that can understand my emotions right now. You can make sense of their power and their intoxication. You understand me better than anyone can. Only you could know. God bless you for all that you teach me and allow me to hear in your story so that I can better understand my own.
Yours, in the Hope in the Child