by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Joseph's Suspicions and Reassurance
When the Virgin Mary returned to Nazareth, her pregnancy was apparent, It was only Joseph, who was betrothed to her, who suspected her. Their betrothal was performed according to Jewish customs, which entitled the man, within the interval of one year of betrothal to a girl to be actually married even though she might still be living with her family, and before wedding festivities after which she takes residence in her husband's house. Accordingly, no one was suspicious of Mary except Joseph who wished to divorce her privately. Others, however, thought that Mary and Joseph consummated their union and Joseph was the father. So Mary was considered as betrothed to Joseph because marriage vows were taken but without marriage festivities; and she was also his wife having been espoused to him by a marriage contract. When the angel appeared to him confirming Mary's Chastity, the angel called her his wife saying:
"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 1:20).
The Virgin Gives Birth to the Incarnated God
The Virgin was espoused to Joseph, took residence in his house in Nazareth. They went together to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-20) to be taxed according to the decree from Ceasar Augustus.
In Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her first born son in a stable annexed to the inn. She remained virgin during conception and until after birth. Due to the greatness of the Incarnation of God, the word, Mary remained a virgin before birth, at birth and until after the birth of Jesus. The miraculous virgin birth of the Lord was similar to the penetration of sun's rays through glass without fracturing or breaking it. Just as the Lord entered the upper room and appeared to his disciples while the doors were shut; and as he rose from the grave while still sealed, He was born and the seal was intact. No wonder, therefore, that the virgin kept her virginity after the birth of her first son, Lord Jesus. It was she who said of herself: "For he that is mighty hath done to me great things". She was to behold these miracles that almighty God made in her and for her. For this reason she was called the ever virgin and the mother of God because she gave birth to the incarnated God (Luke 1:49, Gal. 4: 4 Is 7:14).
The prayer of the first office said on Monday night reads:
"I know not what attribute to give you, oh, daughter of David. I know not what name to give you, oh, Mary. Shall I call you the virgin? And behold a son is suckling from you! Shall I call you a mother! And your virginity is confirmed! I shall call you the Mother of God and let contenders, who dare argue and investigate about the mystery of your son, hallelujah, be ashamed and let the one who attempts to fathom this mystery be Anathema".
The prayer of the first office said on Wednesday night reads:
"The virgin gave birth to a miraculous child. Let's go and behold the swaddled baby, who is older than ages. Behold the man of old being born of a virgin. The mighty, the great and steady as mountains held in (Mary's arm). Behold the suckling infant giving bread to the poor. The eternal son with no beginning, willed that he, the eternal, have a beginning. A beginning he had and was born. He, the eternal, who is infinite".
The prayer said on Wednesday evening reads:
"Confiding to her son Mary said: you strengthened me to bear you, and when I gave birth to you in a manger in the stable you revealed your glory to me. Behold the fire embracing the little manger and the Seraphim with their six wings fluttering over it. May you command them to stop fluttering so that I may be able to enter, kneel in adoration before you and suckle you, giving you the pure milk you favor… Mary said, I am poor; I own no house on earth, no resting place and no bed. I wrapped him, He, the oldest of all, and in a manger I placed the Lord of creation, the son whose father in heaven is one, and his mother is peerless on earth. He is the Lord betrothed to church and I am his maidservant".
The prayer of the first office said on Thursday night reads:
"When the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, she addressed him saying: I know not, son, what to call you! Shall I call you a child and you are older than ages? Or shall I call you an old man and you are a child? I shall call you a ray, shining forth from the Father, illuminating all creations, Hallelujah. Blessed be your light, blessed be your brightness, and adoration be to your Father, who sent you for our salvation.
Mary said to her virgin friends:
"I am rejoiced and joyful because I bear the bearer of mankind, who is served by the angels. I coo to Him, who taught melodies to mankind. Ranks of illuminators surround His glory, Hallelujah, and hail Him saying, Holy, Holy is the Lord and blessed is His Sanctity".
The prayer said on Monday morning reads:
"The Lord shone forth from the Father and the daughter of David (gave birth) to the Savior and Bethlehem (granted) the bread of life to the peoples who had faith in Him. Adoration be to the Father, who sent His son, and Blessed be Mary, who gave birth to Him, Blessed be the church that embraced him, singing (hymns) of glorification to Him…
I was going through Bethlehem when I heard the voice of Mary in the stable cooing to her son and saying:
Blessed me, oh, son, because I became your mother and suckled you… Never shall I approach you unless you permit me".
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