Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paragraph 60

And now, meditate upon this most great convulsion, this grievous test. Notwithstanding all these things, God conferred upon that essence of the Spirit, Who was known amongst the people as fatherless, the glory of Prophethood, and made Him His testimony unto all that are in heaven and on earth.

Once again, Baha'u'llah is asking us to meditate. And it's interesting; He calls this a "most great convulsion".

Now, do you remember what He is referring to? The Virgin birth. (Yeah, we know. It says it right there.)

It's interesting that He points this out with such exactitude. There are plenty of other convulsions He could have asked us meditate on, but this is the one He chose. Why?

Well, looking at this from the perspective of the time, it was a very major issue. To start, we need to clarify a few things. Being born out of wedlock, while not cool, was no reason for any stigma on the individual in question. Being born from two parents who were not allowed to be married, nor could have been married, was.

The former, known as being an illegitimate child, or a bastard, was not a problem for life. The latter, known as mamzerim, had a huge list of prohibitions that lasted not only in your own lifetime, but was also passed on to your descendants.

Jesus, while born out of wedlock, would not have been considered mamzerim, since it was possible for Mary and Joseph to wed, even though they had not yet been married. Jesus would have had no stigma attached to Him for that reason.

However, a different problem arose. Mary did not appear to disclose who the father was. And since there were many people in the area who she would not have been allowed to marry, for many different reasons, the suspicion of mamzer would have been cast upon Him.

If she told the truth, nobody would have believed her. And yet she couldn't lie about it.

This made it a huge issue for many at the time.

The problem with being mamzer is that you are not allowed in the Temple, amongst other things. And while Mary's recognized moral behaviour was generally considered high enough to prevent this label being cast upon Jesus, there was still the lingering question.

Either way, Jesus would certainly not have been allowed to be ordained as a Rabbi, since He could not prove His lineage. So what gave Him the right to teach as He did? That, dear Reader, is the question.

Now, could God have prevented this? Of course. There would have been nothing preventing Him from giving Mary Jesus after the marriage. But instead, it became a test.

You will note, though, that we don't say much about the birth itself. If you want more information on that, we suggest that you read what 'Abdu'l-Baha says, in Some Answered Questions, sections 17 (The Birth of Christ) and 18 (The Greatness of Christ is Due to His Perfections).

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