O Virgin of virgins,
how shall this be?
For neither before was any like thee,
nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Luke 1:26-56 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
“Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
It always astonishes me when I read Mary’s words to Elizabeth. “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” she said. She knew her “lowly state” and in humility accepted God’s will for her life without question and with glory to Him. How she must have loved God. How much more did that love multiply when she contained the Ineffable One in her womb? I cannot even fathom it.
I recall when I became pregnant with each of my children. At first I felt nothing and it was difficult to grasp the reality that there was another person, a brand new person whose had never ‘been’ before, growing inside me. And then at the beginning of the second trimester I felt this little flutter, like gentle butterfly kisses on your cheek, yet it was in my abdomen. It was a feeling beyond words. As the months pass, my belly grew more and more unwieldy. Sitting became a challenge. Getting out of the chair was near impossible unless someone was there to haul me out! I forget what my feet looked like and I yearned for the day when I could bend over from the waist and stretch my back out for a good long time. It sure was nice to have a portable shelf on which to balance my cup of tea and luncheon plate, though I had to be vigilant because a kick would come at any moment and knock the plate flying!
During my pregnancy with my daughter I worried I wouldn’t be able to love her. How could I love another child when I loved my first born as much as I did? Was there enough love? Was there enough room? When she was born, the question never entered my mind. I heard a squeal and the announcement, “It’s a girl!” and at that very moment I loved her with all I had in me. Yet my love for my son did not diminish one bit.
I often wonder how Mary felt. I feel sure she waddled with her unwieldy belly like all pregnant mothers do. She probably wished to see her feet and stretch her back. She loved God so very much. God is her Son. Her Son is God. Yet He was a child, an infant, sweet smelling as all babies are, tiny fists, little toes, little fingers, minute fingernails and smoothly soft with new baby skin. She cradled the Logos in her arms, nursed Him at her breast, and nuzzled His sweet baby head.
Why do we marvel at you O Holy Theotokos? Because we who are mothers like you, know what it is to love our child(ren), the blessing, that God has given us to raise in the Faith to follow your Son, our God. Though I did not give flesh to the Logos as you did, I believe we share the emotions and love of a mother for her child. In that I can say too, He has done great things for me, and holy is His name.