For some of us, small talk is a land mine. For those of us who are barren, the innocent inquiry, “Do you have children?” is far from small. I used to answer no, but the inevitable, miserable silence that followed led me to change my answer. Now I quickly say, “I have three daughters through God,” and enjoy feeling the broad smile that breaks across my face.
Early church fathers like Theodotus of Ancyra understood Mary’s pregnancy quite literally to have begun through her ear: “It was through her sense of hearing that Mary conceived the Living God.” Heartily concurring, Kyros of Panopolis notes, “Brethren, let the birth of God our Savior Jesus Christ be honored with silence, because the Word of God was conceived in the holy Virgin through hearing alone.” The Syriac Acts of John, written in the third century, reiterates four times that Jesus “entered by the ear of the Virgin, and dwelt in her womb nine months.”