“Following Mary’s Example,” New Era, Dec. 2018, 24–27.
The Christmas season is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. I love singing carols, baking all kinds of treats, and just taking in the beauty of a glowing Christmas tree. I could spend hours just sitting by a Christmas tree. But the best part for me is enjoying time with my husband and family as we reflect on the gifts we have received from our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about Mary, His mother.
Based on the tradition and culture in the Savior’s day, some scholars have suggested that Mary may have been between 14 and 16 years old when the angel delivered the message that she would be the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Her husband-to-be, Joseph, may have only been a few years older than that. Imagine how they felt as the course of their lives was altered by this sacred call.
This painting hangs in our home during the Christmas season. Although in reality they were young parents, I like that this image depicts an older Joseph and Mary, symbolizing to me a spiritual maturity beyond their years.
Much like Mary and Joseph, you youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today are extraordinary. President Russell M. Nelson declared that you are among our Heavenly Father’s most noble spirits (“Hope of Israel” [worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018], HopeofIsrael.lds.org). You follow the examples of Mary and Joseph: You are committed to living the covenants you’ve made. You face difficult challenges, but you are obedient and courageous.
Let’s look at some of the qualities and characteristics of Mary. Can you see some attributes you have in common?
At a young age, Mary was ready to accept the responsibilities that would be placed upon her. When Gabriel told her of her mission, Mary answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), showing her willing and obedient nature.
The angel Gabriel told Mary that she had “found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). We learn in the Book of Mormon that she was the precious and chosen vessel who would ”bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God” (Alma 7:10). To be “highly favoured” (Luke 1:28), she must have been a clean and virtuous young woman. She understood that she was a covenant daughter of God.
Mary was not yet married to Joseph when she was first expecting Jesus. Can you imagine the fear and uncertainty she must have experienced? By law, she could have been stoned to death for what others may have thought of her situation. When the angel told her to “fear not” (Luke 1:30), she courageously placed her trust in God and moved forward in faith.
From the very beginning, Mary knew of her Son’s mission as Savior of the world. Even though she was His mother, she understood that she could not be saved without Him. She heard His teachings and kept them in her heart (see Luke 2:51). She devoted her whole life to serving Him, and you can do the same thing.
You too are a favored child of God. You can follow Mary’s example by humbly following the Savior and keeping His commandments, even when it’s not easy. You can courageously move forward in faith, even when facing fear and uncertainty. This Christmas, consider how you can follow Mary’s example in honoring the Savior.