By Philemon Odembo
What began as an ordinary engagement almost broke just months before the consummation of marriage. This was the custom and culture of the Jews. Brides were to be chaste, undefiled and fully reserved for the bridegroom for that union to be acceptable in the eyes of the community. This is the story of Mary, betrothed to Joseph and keeping herself in absolute purity knowing too well the consequences of falling short of missing the mark of ultimate virginity.
If this happened where I live, Miss Mary would be considered by her peers as old-school, archaic and naïve. “How possible is it that you’ve reached adult age and yet you are still saying, “I have not known any man” Luke 1:34.
She would be considered backward and uncivilized. In fact, Mary wouldn’t have been safe even in the church because she would have been tagged as one portraying a holier than thou attitude. Well, some people would have looked at her as a conservative who was piously keeping the tradition of the land.
But God was preparing her for the perfect Christmas story as we have it today. This was also going to fulfill scripture that “Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14.
What makes the Christmas story fascinating is the lesson we derive from the attitude of Mary.
It’s amazing how Mary received the news of the angel. It’s worth noting that she did not doubt the angel but simply wanted to understand how this was going to happen. Mary was also well aware of what would transpire if Joseph discovered that she was pregnant. But Mary completely and selflessly traded her interest for the sake of Gods will. She risked losing Joseph and yet answered the angel thus; “may it be unto me according to your word” how sweet and loyal that sounded. It’s like saying; I know the decision I am about to make will affect my life but nevertheless, may God’s will prevail in me.
This is the lesson of Christmas. Loyalty, obedience and total submission to the perfect will of God. Mary was willing to let go of all her pleasure and, dignity and respect Just for God s will to prevail. Can you imagine how tough it was going to be for Mary, walking around the village heavy with a child and yet not yet married in a male dominated society like Bethlehem?
Can you imagine the scorn and ridicule from friends and family? Imagine the shame of Joseph having to receive a barrage of questions concerning his fiancee’s morality which was at stake. But Mary the handmaid of the Lord surrendered to Gods will till the magnificent Jesus Christ the king and savior were born. And so Mary’s chastity begets royalty.