Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts about women in scripture.
When I take people on tours to Israel, one of my favorite places to go is the “Milk Grotto” in Bethlehem.
According to tradition, the milk grotto is a cave in which Mary and Joseph briefly stopped on their flight to Egypt. The legend is that in this location, Mary nursed the baby Jesus and a drop of her milk fell to the ground, causing the walls of the cave to turn white.
While this is not a scriptural site, and I personally don’t believe the legend is true, I love this spot because it is a great place to reflect on what is true. It is true that at approximately age 15, Mary was on the run to a foreign country. Think about yourself as a fifteen year old — were you ready for such an endeavor? And so while it might not have happened in this particular cave, it is likely that Mary stopped to nurse Jesus somewhere along the journey.
Think about Mary as a young mother, told by her husband that the Lord had warned him that they should flee to Egypt (see Matthew 2:13). What did she feel? Was she frightened? Full of faith? Alternating between the two? Pondering these questions helps me better understand Mary as a person and causes my admiration for her to grow. I think it’s significant that when Nephi asked to know the meaning of the tree that his father saw, the angel first showed him Mary (see 1 Nephi 11:9-15). There is a reason why prophets foresaw her centuries before the birth of Christ, prophesied of her divine mission, and called her by name (see 1 Nephi 11:15-20, Mosiah 3:8, Alma 7:10). While members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not worship Mary, we can certainly reverence her and show her deep respect for her amazing role in God’s plan for humanity.