Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mary's Back Story

For me, the Christmas story is the back story of Mary & to a lesser extent Joseph.  The various authors of this fabulous, elaborate. touching, oriental tale were somehow pulled together into a unique narrative that transcended the traditional tales comprising much of it.

We view the Christmas story & the Nativity from a perspective long after the crucifixion & Resurrection events. We know what happens to Jesus,  what he does, & the growing movement established in his name.  Who is telling this story?  Jesus never told it.  Paul, through whom we learn the earliest beliefs & practices of the movement,  apparently was unaware of it.  Perhaps someone who heard Mary herself tell it?

It begins with Mary witnessing the worst possible thing that could happen to any mother: The public, painful, gruesome, unjust execution of her son. Roman law prohibits open displays of grief at executions; if you weep & wail, you yourself could end up on a cross. We ask, How is she able to endure the unendurable? & that is the question the authors of the Christmas narrative answer for us with wonderful insight into the characters of Mary & Joseph, the faith & courage of this extraordinarily ordinary couple. We especially learn Mary's heart.

When Jesus is born in the stable, only Mary & Joseph, Elizabeth & Zacharias, nearby  shepherds who saw angels singing,  plus some presumably Zoroastrian astrologers still enroute have any inkling of what is transpiring. Franciscan types are permitted to believe the local animals were also informed in their own fashion.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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