Sunday, December 06, 2015

In the Picture: Mary and Joseph's neighbours

Marriage of the Virgin
1446 - 1523

Read: Matthew 1.18
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

The Bible doesn’t record the marriage of Mary and Joseph. It simply says that Mary was betrothed to him, but that they weren’t married when she became pregnant. Betrothal was a much more formal business than engagement is in our culture. It was a solemn commitment to marriage, usually made when the bride was too young for marriage. When the time was right the couple would move in together and the contracts of marriage would be signed.
Perugino’s picture of the marriage is an imaginative, and probably not very accurate depiction, but it makes clear the central issue around this marriage. Mary is clearly pregnant, her hand resting on her belly. Those around her, perhaps family or friends, are all talking among themselves. It has the air of a hastily arranged ceremony, something that needs to be got out of the way as quickly as possible.

  • What do you think the onlookers are talking about in this picture?
  • Have you ever passed judgement on someone else’s relationship because you thought it was bound to fail? Were you right or wrong? 

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