In our religion and culture, being pregnant before marriage is cause for a death sentence. It still happens from time to time, and there are a few ways to get around it, but people are contemptuous of women who do so.
I made sure Mary knew that. She was taught from early childhood about our religion, so you can imagine my surprise when she calmly announced she was expecting a baby.
She told me a story that I found preposterous. An angel supposedly came and told her that she would bear a son, who would be the Messiah. She was also told that my sister was pregnant.
I’m a practical woman. This just does not happen. I felt she had to be lying, and I was not happy. To offer me the lie about my sister, who was barren made me even angrier.
There was only one chance that she would be allowed to live. She was the betrothed of Joseph. If he accepted her and went through with the marriage, she was safe. If not, she was dead.
This isn’t easy for a mother to take. I was burning with anger at whoever did this to her. I was sorely disappointed that my own child had not enough self control to prevent this from occurring, and I was scared out of my mind for her life.
Joseph did not take the announcement well. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not the father of this child and that there was little chance he would accept the explanation Mary offered.
I knew that he loved her, but would that be enough? It was a slim hope that I still held onto with all of my might. Surely he would not want to see her killed.
The next day, Joseph stopped by to talk to us. He told us that he’d had a dream that night that corroborated Mary’s story. Mary, he explained, was still a virgin. He had been instructed to wed Mary, but he could not know her until after the Baby was born. He was even given the name for the child. He would be called Jesus.
While all of this was going on, Mary was in Jerusalem with Elizabeth . I felt she needed to get out of the way until this mess was over, and sent her there. To my surprise, I received a letter from her telling me about the birth of her firstborn son.
Can you understand how I felt? I had doubted my daughter. I had doubted Joseph, as well. I could not doubt my sister, who also mentioned what had happened when they met, that her son had leapt in her womb for the joy of seeing the mother of our Messiah.
What I feel now, aside from some guilt for the doubting, is excitement. I am still scared, though. There are a lot of prophecies about the Messiah and some of them are scary. What I feel the strongest, however, is hope. The Kingdom of God is at hand!