There are a lot of things we don’t know.
How exactly does a Virgin Birth work?
Why does Mary get all the credit in this story, when Joseph certainly deserves the “Boyfriend of The Year” award for accepting and going along . . . and following God.
How old was Mary? Through the years a Cult of Mary has developed and thrived. Half of the Roman Catholic churches you go into you would swear the religion was all about Mary, and not about Christ. In a lot of traditional religious paintings Mary is portrayed as a mature woman, when the reality was that she was a scared Jewish teenager.
Where did Mary live? Depending on the age of the painting she may have lived in a castle, or a Dutch canal house, a Moorish castle, a Roman villa, or a Chinese pagoda . . . all of which is OK, but . . . according the the final authority, the Israeli tourist board, there are two places. Two? Right, both the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, by the way neither of whom were present at the “Event”, are certain they and they alone have the right spot where the Annunciation took place, and both have erected churches on the site. The tours tend to go to the most “tourist friendly” site and often the grandest, and so in this case the tours visit the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’
‘How can this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God’
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” [Luke 1:26-39]
By a few cruises later someone had gotten to the sign and spray painted out the words “be accepted”, “losers” and “Koran”.
Now I know that a lot of the tourists on our tours were offended by the mosque sign. However, I had to remind them that exclusivity is nothing new in religion. After all, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”