Interestingly, Mary, the mother of baby Jesus, appears to be the only woman present during the birth of her first baby. This may not have truly been the case as any other women who were present during Mary’s labour and delivery may just have been omitted from the biblical account as many women are omitted from historical accounts written by men.
Never mind that Mary’s mother seemingly allowed her to travel to a distant town so close to delivering her first baby (I am speaking as a mother whose daughter is ready to deliver her first baby any day now). And never mind that throughout history whenever a baby is born there are typically many women on hand to assist with the delivery.
Still, the biblical account of Jesus’ birth effectively omitted all females who must have been present at the birth of the Saviour. We will not dwell on this point though, as women are well acquainted with being written out of history.
However, Mary is one woman that could not be written away (although I think it would have been even more miraculous if Joseph gave birth to baby Jesus), and as the sole female witness to the account of Jesus’ birth, she is vital to the nativity scene.
Moreover, and far more importantly, as the mother of Jesus, the Son of God for Christians around the world, she has been venerated for the last two thousands of years. More than just the Son of God, Jesus is also God, which makes Mary the Mother of God.
It is no small feat to give birth to God, but to nurture and raise God would be an even more incredible achievement. No wonder she is revered by so many. According to Catholic.org, she was “The Mother, of God, Mother of Jesus, wife of St. Joseph, and the greatest of all Christian saints. The Virgin Mother ‘was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men.’”
I grew up as a Protestant, therefore veneration of Mary was absent in the worship of God. This is unfortunate as it removed yet another female symbol needed for Christian women. The motherhood and goodness of Mary is most certainly a reason to celebrate her femininity.
In April I attended a women’s conference in Istanbul, Turkey. On my way back home, a Sister and I had a stopover in Rome and we decided to stay for a day since we were already there. We visited the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore) and I must admit that I was surprised – as someone who is not religious – by how deeply I felt a spiritual presence in that place.
I sat at the feet of a statue of Mary for a long time, as the feeling was so powerful and so deeply precious that I simply did not want to leave. Please understand that this type of experience does not happen to me unless I am outdoors and in nature. Still, I had to admit there was an undeniable spiritual connection for me in that place that moved far beyond my appreciation of the architecture and artwork.
Moreover, as I sat there, it grieved me that Mary had – like all other venerated females throughout history – been so far removed from my eyes and the eyes of women throughout the world, that we do not even know many of these extraordinary women even existed.
We do not know of the great deeds, the kind acts or the spectacular miracles of women. Like the women who must have been present during the labour and delivery of Jesus, most of the venerated women of human antiquity have been omitted from historical account. I would consider helping the Mother of God to deliver Baby Jesus far more worthy of documentation than three men showing up with presents.
It is no wonder women think so little of ourselves; we have been robbed of our spectacular history lest we forget our lowly “place” below the male.
Mary was a mother. She was the Mother of God. I am a mother and can relate to Mary. I have given birth, I have nursed a child, I have swaddled my baby and I have nurtured and groomed my children to be the best humans I could possibly produce… just like Mary. Of course I would feel a spiritual connection to Mary.
According to Scripture, Mary was an integral part of Jesus’ life, even to his dying day as she sat at the foot of the cross. Jesus did not lack the guidance and love of his Mother, and no doubt Jesus’ compassion for the poor, hungry and sick was a reflection of his Mother’s influence on him. Because of her significant role in Jesus’ life, she has been deemed a Saint by the Catholic Church and worshipped for centuries.
An account of Mary on Catholic.org said, “This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly depicted in the Gospel in which she is seen constantly at her son’s side during his soteriological mission. Because of this role exemplified by her acceptance of Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her urging him to perform his first miracle, and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary Mary was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself. Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: ‘To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated him – insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ.’”
Truly the life of the sole woman documented at the birth of Christ is deific. It brings such joy to me during this Christmas season to know this is one woman who was not written out of history.