Our time of Advent is almost half over already. How far along was Mary now in her pregnancy? It too was almost half over.
The angel Gabriel told Mary that her relative Elizabeth was already in her sixth month when he first appeared to Mary. Assuming that Mary spent a few weeks preparing for the trip to see her relatives in Judea, and knowing that she stayed in the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months, we can guess that Mary was present at the birth of baby John. And so, by the time she returned to Galilee, Mary herself was close to the end of her fourth month of pregnancy.
During the fifth month of her pregnancy, Mary, like Elizabeth before her, may have entered an extended period of seclusion. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Joseph did not have relations with Mary during this pregnancy. The purpose of seclusion, a time apart from society, was to isolate a person who was “ritually unclean.” A man was not to have sex, or any physical contact, with his wife during a ritual period of isolation, a time set aside for religious reasons rather than hygienic ones. The man would be defiled by such contact. In this case, however, Joseph was not the one who would be defiled by touching his wife. Mary was not ritually unclean: She was carrying God’s own child. On the contrary, Joseph abstained from touching his wife to avoid defiling Mary.
In her isolation, Mary felt…cherished.
Even as Mary cherished the new life within her, she rejoiced in the fact that her husband cherished her enough not to demand his rights as her husband.
In Philippians 2:20, St. Paul was in prison and unable to visit his cherished churches. He spoke of his appreciation for Timothy’s love for the church at Philippi. “I have no one likeminded with him, who will cherish a genuine care for you.” (WEY)
Whom do you cherish? A child? A Parent? A dear friend? A spiritual counselor? Why not write a note of encouragement to that person today? If you can’t write a note, say a prayer of thanks to God for that person.