Luke 2:33 “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.”
Has something utterly amazing happened in your life and at the moment it occurred you experienced overwhelming joy and happiness? How long did it take for the feeling to fade away? When a new challenge presented itself in your life and you forgot about the awesome event you experienced?
Mary and Joseph were no different than we are. Here were two individuals, each approached by the angel Gabriel, and told the most incredible news–they would be the parents and caretaker of the anticipated Messiah. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary proclaims her astonishment and wonder that God has chosen her, above all women, to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph is struggling with the fact of Mary’s pregnancy but when Gabriel approaches him and tells him she is pregnant with the savior of the world he immediately embraces the responsibility of being the earthly father of our Lord. How much more amazing can that be? Yet, we see throughout the story of Jesus’ life with his parents they forgot who they were raising.
Just a month or so after Jesus’ birth, they went to Jerusalem for the rite of purification required of all Jewish women who have given birth. An elderly man, named Simeon, approaches them as they enter the temple courtyard. God had promised he wouldn’t die until he saw the redeemer of Israel. Simeon takes the infant Jesus into his arms and proclaims wondrous things about him–he will cause many to rise and fall in Israel, he will be the sign Jewish people will reject because he doesn’t fit their ideal of a Messiah, and because of her son Mary’s heart will be pierced as if with a sword.
The account in Luke does not tell us Mary and Joseph just accepted Simeon’s words with a knowing understanding. No, it says they were “amazed, or marveled, by all they heard”. Two people, visited by an angel, told specifically they would be the parents of the promised Messiah of Israel and they “marveled” at the things they heard. How quickly they forgot the divine and holy nature of the birth of their son. Just a few months old and, to them, he was just a baby boy born under fantastic circumstances. Throughout his life, we see how many times his mother in particular forgets her son is not like other young men: When he is “lost” in Jerusalem in a discourse with priests about his Father, God, and when she goes with his brothers and begs him to stop his ministry because she has heard rumors about plots against his life. The very miracle of the Virgin Birth is a shadow in her past–how quickly she has forgotten whose son he truly is.
During this Christmas season let’s reflect on the miracles God has performed in our lives and consider how quickly their impact has faded into the memories of our past. We can read the story of Mary and Joseph, from a distance, and see the full scope but we can also look at our own lives and contemplate the meaning. How often have we forgotten what God has done? How can we incorporate the blessings in our lives to make a positive change in the lives of others? Let us remember, during this season of joy, the true and divine gift given to us and let us not forget the One who sent him.