While Mary went about her work as wife and soon-to-be-mother, the bell in the town square began to ring. That meant something very important was happening. It might be a fire, or some other disaster. Everyone would go to the calling bell to see what needed immediate attention. This time it was a message from the Emperor. All citizens were to go to the place of their birth to be counted for taxes.
Not questioning, not complaining, Mary set about doing what she could do. This message was not in her plan for preparing for Jesus’ birth. Perhaps she drew on her knowledge of Scripture that Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and marveled at how God’s plan comes about through varied ways. This time it was an edict from the emperor that would put her in Bethlehem, a place she had not planned to be.
Mary began planning what she would need to take on that journey. It would take overnights, so she would make arrangements to join with others . She must prepare food, things that she and Joseph would need, and of course, swaddling clothes for the baby, who would be born very soon.
I don’t know about you, but getting an order to move from someone higher on the social scale would not set well with me. The thing to be kept in mind is that Mary had no influence against this decree. She simply had to take what was stated because there was no way out. Things like that happen to us all the time. We pout about a rainy day. Or we become angry because a spouse or child must work, and we want them to babysit, or drive us somewhere.
Mary doesn’t react this way. She just begins to make the plans that the interruption in her life demands. What kinds of things happen that can upset you? At this time of the year it may be that you run out of scotch tape, or sugar. Gift wrapping and cookie making must be halted a bit.
More distressful, you have guests coming for dinner and the stove goes POUFF! and no more stove. Or your child becomes ill just before the Christmas play and he was to be a King! with a Crown! and a red robe! How do we handle those things?
At eight months pregnant Mary is about to begin a journey of 80 miles on foot or on a donkey part of the way. No complaining from her, just preparations for that awesome journey.
Business people would probably have a plan B. That is all well and good, but even then, something can happen to throw things askew.
Try to keep a calm demeanor as we come closer to Christmas. Give yourself time to ponder and reflect, as Mary did. Jesus is coming!
Peace, and gentle thoughts,
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg