Filling In The Gaps
I think getting to know Mary better will be an asset to my relationship with Jesus... if any of this is valid. In light of Catholic teaching, it just may be. My conclusions aren't fully formed yet. Its all still a little weird to me! But it makes sense that Mary was apparently a widower sometime after Jesus' 12th birthday if Joseph was already old when he came into the picture. It makes sense that she was a Virgin betrothed- though we are never told by whom. Its assumed her parents set it up, but we're never told in scripture. Given the unlikely pairing, why couldn't she have been a ward of the temple & a consecrated virgin at that? It certainly would have made her conception all the more scandalous. And indeed it was scandalous. If tradition is true, her betrothal to Joseph wasn't exactly a secret. Despite all this, Elizabeth & her husband, Zechariah the priest (the very same parents of none other than John the Baptist) understood the bigger picture when Mary showed up on their doorstep. If tradition is true, Zechariah would have known Mary from the temple... And what about Simeon & Anna? How did they know who she was? Perhaps Simeon had also frequented the temple while Mary was growing up. Maybe that old, widowed prophetess Anna was really her mother... We aren't told. Mary wouldn't have recognized her anyway. Anna had been an old lady to begin with & they supposedly parted when Mary was just 3 yrs old.
Aside from accepted Catholic theology, there's a reason Mary was known as a woman full of grace. She was highly favored of God. She was humble, obedient & wise. She submitted to the ways of God & by the power of the Holy Spirit, she gave birth to the Son of God. I may get thwacked for saying this, but it almost doesn't matter whether she was born sinless, remained sinless or retained her virginity. It almost doesn't matter if she was assumed into heaven or crowned as a queen. In the grand scheme, what matters is that she believed. She submitted to God, carried Jesus into this world, then stood back & watched Him work. Isn't that our mission too?
Its important to remember the undeniable fact that we've only been able to come to Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, through the obedience of Mary. Mary always points to Christ, reflects Christ & reveals Christ to us. She's not scary... she's Mary.