The birth of Jesus was the beginning of family life for Mary, Joseph and their new son. Mary’s pregnancy had not been normal by anyone’s standards, starting with the conception from the Holy Spirit, announced by the angel Gabriel. The gospels do not go into detail but we can guess how difficult it must have been for Mary to explain this to her parents as well as her intended, Joseph. There will have been gossip and funny looks in the market place, I am sure, as her pregnancy became more obvious. So, not easy for a young girl. Luckily, Joseph was guided by an angel not to divorce her but to support her. Then there was the journey to Bethlehem, for Joseph to register in the census, and the lack of accommodation there that meant that the new Messiah was born in a lowly stable.
This story is familiar to us all, as each Christmas we hear the Bible passages and sing the words in our carols. And, of course, it is illustrated on the Christmas cards we send and receive, the Advent calendars, and the decorations in our homes and our towns. So familiar are these images that it is too easy for us to become hardened to them and not to look at them afresh to read what they really tell us.
The new little family – the Holy Family – was unique. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was chosen by God to carry and give birth to his son. As any mother does, she nurtured him, watched as he grew up, guided him, then stepped back as he set out on his ministry. Later, she had to watch and live through his violent death. Mary is now venerated as the model of all mothers and holds a special place in many Christians’ hearts.