Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son.” – Luke 1:34-35
Growing up on a farm, birth was part of life. Baby making happened regularly. Every September, we put the ram in with the ewes for lambs to be born in January. Before I was 10, Dad taught me how to pick out which cow was in heat. Dad kept a book in the milk house with the date cows and heifers were bred and which bull they were bred to. I had the artificial inseminator, John Prissel’s, phone number memorized. I could call and request which cow he breed and what bull to use.
All of this, long before school sex education class. It was clear to me that something from a male and something from a female combined to form a baby. Sex education class gave name to these somethings: sperm and egg.
As an uneducated teenager girl, Mary probably never had science or sex education class. Yet she was familiar with life formation. She became engaged when she hit puberty. Once a young girl had her period, her parents would arrange for marriage. The official wedding ceremony would take place a year-long engagement. Then, the young bride would get pregnant as quickly as possible. Providing she withstood childbirth, Hebrew women were expected to have babies annually until they no longer could.
Mary was engaged. But it was completely unethical for her to be intimate before the official wedding. When the angel told her about a baby conceived within her, Mary’s first thoughts are, “Impossible! I’ve followed Hebrew tradition and kept myself for only my future husband. There’s no way I can be pregnant. It’s logistically impossible.” For regular human beings, it is impossible. But not for our Almighty God. God went beyond the impossible and make it possible.
The conception part of the Christmas story is one of those details that either you accept or you don’t. There is no scientific explanation for Mary being pregnant. For some, this is too much and deemed impossible and improbable. I choose to accept this miracle and believe it. Maybe Mary didn’t know the technical words for sperm and egg. That’s not important. What is important is whether she chose to believe it could happen. And this, she did.
Almighty God – There are parts of the Christmas story that can be deemed as too far-fetched. Mary becoming pregnant is a detail that can’t be explained. May we see every created baby as a miracle, with Jesus being another one of those very special miracles. Amen.