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Mary Was NOT An Unwed Mother

I cringe when someone speaks of the Virgin Mary was an unwed mother, usually in a silly attempt to make the Christmas story “relevant” for today’s licentious audience. Such people not only blaspheme, they reveal their own ignorance of Jewish wedding customs.

The Jewish wedding employed two ceremonies before completion and consummation for thousands of years, although very recently they have begun merging them into one. At the first one, the betrothal or kiddushin, the couple promise to remain faithful to each other until “death do us part.” A written contract, ketubah, is completed where the groom promises to provide for the bride and the bride promises to keep herself for him. A religious divorce is required to nullify the marriage after this point. Only the groom can ask for one if he finds something untoward in his bride.

In the time of Joseph and Mary, each then went back home to live with family while the groom prepared a home for his bride, often by adding rooms to his father’s house. When his father decided that the new quarters were ready for the bride, then the groom and his friends went through the town to get the bride and bring her to the new home.

There, another ceremony takes place with vows and blessings under the wedding canopy.[1]

This nissuin is the ceremony that permits the bride to her husband and permits the consummation of the marriage. The party usually lasts seven days and friends and family join in the celebration.[2]

Therefore, Mary was legally bound to Joseph when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her. When it became known that she was with child, Joseph began considering a quiet divorce to spare her as much as possible. But the Lord God told him to stay in the marriage to protect and provide for Mary and the child in her womb. She was wed the whole time, but conceived by the Holy Spirit, not Joseph.

Interesting Side Note: When one studies the common wedding practices of at the time of Jesus, he gets a new appreciation of John 14:12-13

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

The Angelus – F.I.N.A.L.E

 

Or: Those Crafty Priests Win Again

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  1. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”. . . .  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. . . . “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. Luke 1:26-28, 31, 35

In other words, God’s words are fruitful and creative when we are open to them and willing to allow them to work in our lives. It’s good to remind ourselves of this every single day; it helps us stay on track.

  1. Behold the handmade of the Lord. Be it unto me according to Thy word.

And Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word . . . .” Luke 1:38

We are all servants of God. Each of us owes everything we are and everything we have to Him. The least we can do is to allow Him to lead us according to the designs He had in mind for us before we were born.

  1. And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

The creative Word of God becomes real in our lives and through us, Jesus’ love works wonders in the world around us, just as it did when He walked the earth in the flesh.

In between each of these Bible verses, we pray a Hail Mary, asking her to intercede for us, just as we ask friends and relatives to pray for us and our needs. Interestingly enough, most of the Hail Mary is also straight from scripture.

Again, from Luke 1:28 And he (the angel Gabriel) came to her and said, “Hail, (Mary) full of grace, the Lord is with you!”

From Luke 1:41-42 we get “ And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,(Jesus)!”

Then we add the ending where we ask Mary to pray for us during the only important times in our lives – now at this very moment of time and at the time we approach death and our eternal life.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.”

And now, I repent of my foolish lack of interest in that dull old Angelus that was so terribly boring. Instead I now relish this way of praying and meditating on the scripture that brings to the front of my mind the importance of closely following Jesus and His Word several times a day.