“What Child is This?”
I’ve been thinking about Mary lately, Mary, the mother of Jesus, that is. I remember when I became a mother, I felt I understood her more but, now as the mother of a son, I feel it even more.
“What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?”
We sang on Sunday as I held my own sleeping son, and I couldn’t help but think that Mary, too, held her own sweet baby boy all those years ago. She had those same quiet moments as I do in the middle of the night spent gazing at her sleeping boy next to her. And she felt him drink and be satisfied at her breast just like I do my son.
For all the similarities between us, mothers of babes, there are so many things about her I’ll never experience.
I know how uncomfortable it is to be in those final weeks of pregnancy as she did, but I don’t know what it is to travel 80 some odd miles on foot or riding an animal during that time. How extra taxing that must have been.
“Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?”
I can’t imagine angelic beings descended from heaven welcoming my child into the world. How terrifying and amazing all at once! And the juxtaposition of the shepherds with the angels must have been so…well, surreal.
“Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?”
I know how important it was to me to protect my birth environment. I wonder how it was for Mary, who wasn’t even home but many miles away staying with others. And to only have a manger to lay your newborn, I wonder if this troubled her? I wonder if it was a quick labor or if it lasted many hours? How was Joseph? Was he even present? Who attended her birth?
What would it be like to look into your son’s eyes for the first time and not see you or your husband reflected but to be looking full on at your Savior? Was she scared, overwhelmed?
It was not an easy life. For all her life she was thought of as having a bastard son. I can imagine how frustrating to know everyone believed something, judged you for something you never did. We get a glimpse of her wanting to rectify this misconception at the wedding of Cana when Jesus performs the miracle turning the water to wine.
She may have had the worlds only perfect child, but He developed as a man so she experienced some of the same frustrations every parent experiences. Was she up pacing the floors with Him some nights? Did she fret over her feverish babe some days? She must have, too. We know she was distressed when He was at the temple, and they could not find Him.
The most agonizing moments must have come for her at the cross. She watched as they brutally killed her innocent son.
“So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
the King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.”
Do you think she thought back to those earlier days when wise men honored him with expensive gifts? Do you think every moment flashed before her eyes? Do you think she knew this day would come when the angel came to those many years before?
What child is this? Do you think she really knew?
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