Pregnant with Jesus:  A Mother’s Day Reflection
Pregnant with Jesus: A Mother’s Day Reflection

Pregnant with Jesus: A Mother’s Day Reflection

My desire to better understand the life of Jesus prior to the start of his public ministry at age thirty has been growing over time.  If you have been following this blog, you will remember the post about Jesus and the death of his father, Joseph, and the subsequent responsibility of Jesus as eldest son to provide for the members of his family.  His relationship with his mother, it appears, also seemed to be strong.

On my recent silent retreat, I read a book entitled The Reed of God, written in the 1940s by a Catholic woman named Caryll Houselander.  Caryll’s description of Mary, the mother of Jesus, caught my attention and I have been thinking about it since.  She writes, 

Mary was at the most 14 when the angel came to her. Perhaps she was younger. The whole world trembled on the word of a child, on a child’s consent. To what was she asked to consent? First of all, to the descent of the Holy Spirit, to surrender her littleness to the infinite love, and as a result to become the mother of Christ.

It was so tremendous, yet so passive. 

She was not asked to do anything herself but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to renounce anything, but to receive an incredible gift. She was not asked to lead a special kind of life, to retire to the temple and live as a nun, to cultivate suitable virtues or claim special privileges. 

She was simply to remain in the world, to go forward with her marriage to Joseph. To live the life of an artisan’s wife, just what she had planned to do when she had no idea that anything out of the ordinary would ever happen to her. 

It was, it seemed, almost as if God’s becoming man and being born of a woman were ordinary. The whole thing was to happen secretly. There was to be no announcement… 

…The one thing God did ask of her was the gift of her humanity.

While on the one hand, Mary was asked to do something extraordinary, at the same time, her life continued to be very ordinary.  She was a wife, a mother, a homemaker.  She was not exempt from any human experience.  She even dealt with poverty, giving the offering of two doves for her sacrifice (Luke 2).  

She was “simply” asked to give herself to God, body and soul.  She was asked to bring Christ into the world.

And in many ways, we are asked to do the same.  We are not asked to do something extraordinary or to be set apart…but to give of ourselves, body and soul, to the one true God.

We too are asked to bring Christ into the world.  We are asked to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We are asked to have the same attitude as Christ.  When we help a sick friend, or do an excellent job at work, or cook a good meal, we do it in such a way that Christ may serve through us.

By His own will, Jesus was dependent on Mary during her pregnancy.  He went where she went, her breath was his breath, he could not speak.  In a similar way, Jesus dependent on us today.  We must carry him to the workplace, to the hospitals and prisons, to the dying.  There are many places that He may never go unless we take Him to them.

In fact, we may be working at a place that feels purposeless and empty, full of waste and weariness.  But it may be that God has sent us there because if not for us, Christ would not be there.

And so, Christ is growing in us.  He is forming Himself in us. It is not time for us to see His face.  That day will come.  It is a beautiful mystery.  

We can carry a deep gratitude, a deep joy, a deep wonder at Christ in us – just as a pregnant mother experiences that same wonder.

Caryll goes on to say this:

The gift of Christ’s body makes everyone a priest, because everyone can offer the body of Christ on the altar of his/her own life.  But the offering must be the offering of a human being who is intensely alive, a potent humanness, great sorrow and great joy, a life lit up with the flame of love, fierce fasts and thirsts and feasts of sheer joy. 

1 Peter 2:9 says that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.  We are part of the priesthood of believers, and our parishes are those places of influence where we spend our time.

While I am thankful for my own amazing mother this day, I am also thankful for Mary, the mother of Jesus.  And I’m mostly thankful that Mary’s story can be my story – it can be all of our stories (men and women alike!).  May God find us to be “intensely alive, with fierce fasts and thirsts, and feasts of sheer joy” as we carry Christ into the world.