The Christmas story is a story about Jesus. It’s also a story about Mary. This is important because if we make her too small a figure, then we can miss the whole reason Jesus came.
As Christians during the Christmas season, we say it all the time: the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). This matters so much for those of us who wrestle with sexual sins—either our own or others’ sins that have wounded us so deeply. Sexual sin is a sin against the body, and we can feel its humiliation there.
But how did the Word become flesh?
Through Mary’s body.
Although we do not know exactly how, Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit moved supernaturally upon the virgin Mary and she conceived (Luke 1:31, 35). The fact that she conceived is important. Mary was not a surrogate mother carrying a baby unrelated to her. She was carrying her son. Among other things, this means that Jesus would have physically resembled her in some way.
These things are a mystery that we cannot fully understand or comprehend, but historic Christianity teaches that God the Son, who is eternal, became Mary’s son at a point in time. God united Himself with humanity in Mary’s womb.
Why is this important?
In the 4th century A.D., Athanasius of Alexandria wrote:
“You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; he has come into our country…”
When the Creator and King of all “moved into our city,” He didn’t do so with indifference toward us. It wasn’t that He liked the climate or wanted to invest in real estate. He moved in because we live here. He became a human because you and I are humans.
Too often in Christian circles, we hold a low view of ourselves as human beings. If we’ll pay attention, Mary’s womb cures us of this. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, but just as importantly, He removed the humiliation that sin and death had wrought on humanity at the fall.
Jesus’ eventual death on the cross only accomplishes what we believe it did if Jesus is fully God and fully human. (If He wasn’t fully human, He could not have borne humanity’s sin and death. If He wasn’t fully God, He could not have rescued humanity from sin and death.) And Jesus was fully human because He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, and so became her biological son.
As we move toward Christmas, join me in meditating on this great mystery. And if you find yourself afraid that by doing so you are putting too much emphasis on Mary, prayerfully consider if perhaps you’re actually making too little of what He thinks and feels about you. *
Question: Has your Advent meditation ever included before considering Mary’s womb and Jesus’ union with her there? What do you think this has done for you?
*Thanks to Abbey Foard of Desert Stream Ministries for this insight.
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; Meditating on Mary
This is fantastic! It opened my heart and mind to new dimensions of the Incarnation. Thanks!
Well-said. Ave Maria!