Just think how many times you must have heard the Christmas story, even over just the last few weeks, let alone the whole of your lifetime. Has it sunk in yet? Probably not! Yes – I repeat, probably not. For in all probability you have heard it so many times that you think you know it through and through and through and no longer have to think about it. It washes over your head for you have heard it all before. You might smile indulgently when you see a Nativity play or feel nostalgic if you view a Nativity scene in a shop window some place. And that is likely to be the end of the matter.
Now, when all the festivities are over and its back to the grindstone of daily life, take a moment’s reflection on the story.
Hopefully we might see something of the real people behind the legend. We might just realise the significance of the angel’s message to Mary in that Mary would become pregnant yet she was unwed.
In those days (and in some places still today in this world) for an unwed woman to become pregnant would imply she had had unlawful sex. If such a woman was betrothed, however, and her fiancé was not the father, then she would have to be stoned to death. That was the law.
If Joseph felt betrayed he could have had Mary executed!! We read that he did consider putting the marriage to one side, if that had ever been a possibility. You may think this is totally one sided but for a moment also see it from Joseph’s point of view. Perhaps you haven’t realised, despite the number of times you have heard the story, but Joseph would have faced a lifetime’s humiliation of being called a cuckold, and although that doesn’t sound a big deal in today’s society, at that time such a stigma and utter shame for a man might well have been considered a greater burden than death. In fact we read later on in the Gospels of Jesus being called Mary’s son by the crowd rather than Bar Joseph. So the jibe obviously stuck.
For both Mary and Joseph the details of Jesus’ birth meant a lifetime’s stigma or burden that could have tipped over into something even more dangerous for one or the other of them. So much for the nice romanticised picture of legend, tinsel and glitter. Let’s get real.
Real life is usually sh..y. Real life is so often a struggle. Real life is never a fairy tale come true. Life is hard, often dangerous, and at the very least is a series of never ending problems to be faced. Thank God for Counselling.
Happy New Year.
Every blessing to you all.