The heart of a woman
This last week we celebrated Christmas. It was a time of reflection, a time of praising God and a time to get together with family to enjoy each other’s company and good food. When the month of December started I challenged my two girls to read the book of Luke with me. It wasn’t an easy task for them because it meant reading a chapter a day, and some of the chapters were longer and harder to understand than others. What the goal was, was to read through the life of Christ from birth till death so that the joy of Christmas could be fully felt. What I didn’t realize would happen with me was that I got stuck on chapter 2. I read through the whole book and was able to talk over the chapters with my girls but it was chapter 2 that I kept going back to.
In my previous blog I Dare You To I wrote about Mary, Jesus’ mom. She was young a virgin and betroth to a carpenter in the town of Nazarene. She was also the one the God called to be the mom of Jesus. She was to be the one that would give birth, change His diapers, nurse Him and watch Him grow into a man of God. First He had to learn to be a boy and to do as His parents told Him to do. Mary was the first official mom to deal with the stress of being a good mother, not that God needed her to be a perfect mom, but I am sure the pressure to be the best mom she could be was real. Mary also got to feel the kicks to her bladder that her baby made while in her womb, and other than God she is the closest person Jesus would know as a human since He was closest to her heart while in the womb. When it was time for Jesus to be born, Joseph and Mary had travelled a long way to just be counted in a census. Mary was in her third trimester when they started the journey and gave birth while still in the town of David waiting to be counted. If you are a mom you know, when it is time to give birth you want to be as comfortable as you can be and you want your baby to be born healthy and happy without complications. I can’t imagine Mary being that comfortable in a dirty stable full of straw that probably poked and pricked at her as she layed down. Poor Joseph had to be as strong and in control as he could be as a new dad, because he was probably the only one there to help Mary with the birthing process. Nowhere in the story does it say that they complained about their surroundings, or that they were hungry or about Mary’s pain. Chapter two points more to the fact that out of love they held on to each other, helped each other and gave Jesus as a new baby a warm safe place to lie His head.
This is where Mary’s heart comes into play. While they were taking care of all that had to be taken care after Jesus’ birth, God was doing His thing. All I can think of is the proud papa that makes everyone look at His new child, except this was on a celestial level and it was sharing the joy with shepherds. Imagine bedding down for the night, the sheep are making their noises in the distance. While the sheep start to sleep the group of shepherds that took the night shift got ready to get to work, leaning on their shepherds staffs. Then as all seems to grow silent a bright light comes from heaven and the whole night sky is like day but instead of just light now there are angels all around singing praises to the newborn King. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would be able to keep my senses about me, but these shepherds did. They were told of the birth and that they should go seek out this newborn babe. When they found Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus they praised the Lord while Mary pondered these things in her heart.
Mary so humble and so mild became the mother of the Savior of the world, and yet she stayed humble and mild. She didn’t boast about who she was and how she became the chosen one. Instead two times in the book of Luke chapter 2 it is told how when something miraculous happened she “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. The first time was when the shepherds found their Son lying in the manger and the second time was when she and Joseph thought they lost Him in Jerusalem and when they did find him at the synagogue teaching the found He was the one teaching the teachers. Never once in the story of Jesus did Mary ever get elevated to the “great mother of Jesus”. Instead after chapter two it seems she somewhat fades from the story. She goes on to live her life as a carpenter’s wife is a small town. She wasn’t ever given statues to elevate her status, she was poor, and had other children with Joseph. We are left to believe she lived a God fearing humble life.
Jesus came from humble beginnings. He was never rich, never forced His power and He showed others what it meant to have a humble strength. Mary taught Him as a child in her home to respect His parents, learn the ways of Abraham and to work hard and respect His elders. Mary turned out to be the very best mom for Him. I am a momma of three kids. I am blessed for sure. The pressures are real though and to see and hear what my kids go through is hard but I couldn’t imagine knowing that one of my kids would be the sacrifice for all mankind and still remain sane. The one thing I can say I have copied from Mary is pondering things in my heart that have happened because of my kids or that my kids have done. I find great joy in my kids, I know I am just a small part in the way they will turn out, and yet daily I am amazed at what they accomplish and how they seem to be there for each other and those around them. Finding joy anywhere these days can be hard especially if you are not grounded in something. Our pastor yesterday challenged the congregation to open their Bibles daily and read. In all things that are happening in the world, the Bible has the answers on how to face them, overcome them and find joy in the moment. Mary found joy in the moment and she kept that joy close to her heart to ponder on daily. The challenge is there, find your joy, find it by reading the Bible, find it by trying, but start by looking. Until next time:
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying in which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled and those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:16:19 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously". And He said to them, "Why did you see Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
“Nowhere in the story does it say that they complained.” And also nowhere in the story does it say she “had other children with Joseph.”
I imagined in my mind that they didn’t complain much, and I guess I want to hope it’s true. I was under the impression Mary and Joseph did have more kids, with a son named James.
You’re probably right that they didn’t complain much. The Bible is pretty good about pointing out when people complain, i.e. Exodus. 😉 I am not aware of any Scripture that says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also the mother of James (or Joseph, Simon, Judas) or anyone else. It does speak of brothers and sisters of Jesus. In Catholic Tradition Jesus’ brothers and sisters have always been understood to mean relatives in the broader sense. But you inspired me to do a little research, and I found a Greek reference Bible website, Bible Hub. The word “adelphoi” is used in Matthew 13:55 to describe James. It was surprising to see the concordance at Bible Hub list all the different places “adelphoi” is used, often in the epistles to describe a community of believers, regardless of blood relation. Jesus also uses “adelphoi” when he says that those who do the will of God are his brother, Matthew 12:49, Mark 3:34, Luke 8:21. Thanks for the Bible study nudge.
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I really like that word “Adelphoi” it really draws in the community and family which is what makes up Christ’s followers. I think when naming one of the followers as Jesus’ brother that wasn’t what I intended as a blood brother but rather at some point Mary and Joseph had other kids with one of the sons being named James.
PS – Love ya, Adelphe!
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Love you too and thank you for responding and allowing me the time to think about your feedback so that you and I converse about it