A growing bump served as a physical reminder that she was, indeed, full of favor. We know that Mary experienced plenty of moments of awe and beauty as the chosen mother of Jesus, God incarnate. What a tremendous blessing to physically carry, first in utero and then through childhood, the son of God Himself.
Upon first telling her cousin Elizabeth the tremendous news, Mary herself realized the unthinkable honor that had been bestowed upon her.
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior. For he has regard for the humble state of his bondslave…For behold, from this time on, all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me. Luke 1:46-49.
However, the flip side of favor is burden. As the weight of favor literally grew within her womb, so did the burden she would bear. For to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).
Contrary to the Catholic view held by the Immaculate Conception which minimizes her original sin, Mary seemed to know that she was indeed a broken human, a humble estate. Her honored role as the chosen mother of Christ probably served to magnify her realization of her own sin and shortcomings and inability to the live up to the task entrusted to her.
If, from time to time, every mother feels the crippling pressure of raising little humans, then how much more so Mary. One can hardly imagine the intense weight of the additional burden she carried. It was her job to raise the One who would one day rise from the dead.
Mary was to carry Christ who would carry the burdens of the world. To carry Christ, she had to be carried by God. Without His divine empowerment and presence, Mary, full of favor, would have become Mary, bothered by burden.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-29.
I wonder if Mary was in the crowd when Jesus spoke this life-giving, hope-reviving invitation to bring heavy burdens to Him. I am certain that she, like us, needed constant reminders that what God entrusts to us, He fully intends to carry with us, as the fullness of favor that was bestowed upon her must have often felt like an unbearable weight.
The distinct honor of bearing the One who would bear the sins of the world was given only to one woman; however, all Christians are called to carry Christ as they go about the particulars of their lives.
Through the life of Mary and, most importantly, through the life of the Son she raised, we learn that in order to carry Christ, we must be carried by God through the third person of the Trinity, the indwelling Spirit.
With Him, the burden of bearing His name and likeness becomes lighter. To carry Christ we must be carried by Him. Christianity is the lightest heavy burden.