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FROM WHENCE DID MARY COME?
Some Christians criticize other Christians for making a big deal over Mary. But what they do not understand, iswithout Mary, there is no Jesus. But Without Mary, we could not have celebrated Christmas! But from whence did she come?
Canonical Scripture is silent. However, theProtovangelium of James,a non-canonical Christian writing from the mid Second Century, identifies her parents as Anne and Joachim. an elderly couple thought to be beyond childbearing years, like Abraham and Sarah in Genesis, Hannah and Elkanah in 1 Samuel, or Elizabeth and Zechariah in St. Luke’s Gospel. With the feast of Anne & Joachim on July 26, perhaps the Churches of the Catholic Tradition can persuade the folks at Hallmark to declare Grandparents’ Day on the third Sunday of July?
In the beginning of the Protovangelium, Joachim is fasting in the wilderness and Anne is mourning in her garden, both of them lamenting their childlessness. An angel appears to Anne, promises her that she will conceive, and then directs her attention to her returning husband. Anne and Joachim share a tremendous embrace indicating their great confidence in God that a child will be born, and Anne does conceive.
Some Christians believe Mary was conceived “immaculately,” that is, without sin, that from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. Those Christians believe the idea of an Immaculate Conception is supported by Scripture (e.g. Mary’s being greeted by Angel Gabriel as “full of grace” or “highly favored”). Other Christians do not believe in the Immaculate Conception, citing either a lack of scriptural validation or a creation-spirituality orientation instead of orthodox fall-redemption spirituality. But whether or whether or not you believe in the Immaculate Conception you have to admit that in creating Mary, God intended her for a destiny unlike any other woman and created her with that in mind. Not even in ancient times would every woman say “yes” to an Angel who told her she was going to bear God’s son, particularly an unmarried teenager around the year one of the Common Era. Mary’s assent to God’s will was a courageous act in a society where women were little more than property and where science had not yet recognized that both egg and sperm were necessary for procreation. In today’s secular America, that would be even less likely where the average unmarried female, faced with that same opportunity, might well say she’d rather go to the mall or go out on a date with her boyfriend than bear the Son of God. Thank goodness, Mary chose as she did.
As Jesus matured, Mary, of course took on other roles in his life—taking him to Simeon , finding him conversing with scholars in the Temple, going with him to the Cana wedding, attending his preachings, and finally at the foot of his Cross—-but her role as Godbearer is where it all began.