Early Life of Mother Mary - Part 1
Early Life of Mother Mary
The most comprehensive stories about the early childhood of Mary are attributed to the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of James. This has been documented by historians as being written prior to the year 200 AD.
In a document called God the Father of Mercy there is an entire chapter devoted to Mary, the Holy Trinity's Sign of Mercy. Mary is the object of God's mercy. This document states:
"Mary becomes the prophet of God's mercy, as well as it's icon. She,more than anyone else knows the mystery of mercy that reaches its climax on Calvary. The Virgin who became the Mother of Jesus at Christmas, enabling God's mercy to become incarnate."
The qualities of mercy, compassion, comforting and counselling have long since been seen as feminine qualities, all of which Mary emanated. They are also the qualities of the future incarnation promised by Christ, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things" (John 14:26) Could it be that he was telling then of the age of the Mother, when the feminine power of God would grace this earth.
According to tradition Mary has been called upon as the Mother of Mercy since the 3rd century.
Churches built in honour of the Virgin Mary have been well documented; for example the Emperor Justinian built a splendid church dedicated to Mary in the Temple area in Jerusalem. It was dedicated on November 21, 543AD but was destroyed by the Persians within a century. Mary was also held in the highest regard by early church Fathers praising her ˆ " She was planted in the House of God, nourished by the Holy Spirit and kept her body and soul spotless to receive God in her bosom. He Who is all-holy rests among the holy."
James describes the day Mary is presented to the temple by her parents Anna and Joachim. "When the day arrived, the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews were invited to accompany Mary with their lamps burning to the Temple. There the priest received her, blessed her and kissed her in welcome".
He proclaimed, "The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel." Mary was placed on the third step of the Temple and there danced with joy and all the house of Israel loved her. Without looking back, Mary climbed the stairs of the temple. It was there that she was nurtured and her parents returned glorifying the Almighty. This shows that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God. It is from this very account that arose the feast of Mary's Presentation.
In both the Eastern and Western churches, feast days in honour of the events of Mary's life came into existence between the 4th and 7th centuries. They celebrate her miraculous conception and her birth, narrated in the apocryphal "Infancy Gospel" of James (September 8); the Annunciation (March 25); her purification in the Temple (February 2); and her death (called the Dormition in the Eastern church) and bodily assumption into heaven
We know that in the Byzantine Church this feast is considered one of the twelve great feasts of the liturgical year, called the Dodecaorton. Scholars believe that Mary's Presentation in the Temple is considered a major feast for the Eastern churches celebrating the same values that the Western church celebrates in the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Aji Thomas David