Written on: December 29, 2021
From Sr. Sheila Stone, GNSH
During Christmastide we are invited to enter into a number of feasts, an abundance of scenes. Central to these scenes is the family: Mary, Joseph and their baby, Jesus. (I doubt they called themselves the Holy Family as we do.) We will make their journey from Joseph’s perspective.
Prior to the mandated census, Joseph had observed or learned about Mary’s pregnancy. He was distressed, but was told in a dream not to put her aside, but to continue their betrothal as the child in her womb was the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What was their conversation and emotions as they came to this agreement? What were their desires and hopes for their relationship and for the child?
As they set out for Bethlehem, how did Joseph show his concern, his worry for Mary in her very pregnant condition? Did they rest often and feel relief when they finally made it to Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor, David. How disappointing to be confronted with a crowded inn and no other vacancies. Was Joseph frustrated, feeling inadequate as he told Mary they had to go to a nearby barn to give birth? As a practical man and carpenter, he made do, using the manger for a crib for the newborn baby and seeing to Mary’s comfort with bales of hay. The animals gave warmth and soon shepherds came down the hills with their sheep and little lambs. How proud the new parents were to show their baby and have him admired. How amazing to learn of the songs of angels promising peace.
Magi, wise ones from the east, came later following a star and bearing gifts, searching for Him who would be King of the Jews. The parents were again amazed at the future predicted for their son. However, fear entered in as the Magi were warned in a dream that King Herod was up to no good. The danger intensified as Joseph was warned in a dream to take the baby, his family and flee into Egypt as Herod sought to destroy his child. Joseph rose immediately, woke Mary and told her the dream and they went out under cover of night to escape Bethlehem and begin the journey to Egypt.
What fear, perhaps terror traveled with them?
What trust and faith in God enwrapped them?
What loss of all in the home in Nazareth and even their lodging in Bethlehem.
What anxiety for Joseph with no job to support his family, no home, no possessions.
What courage and obedience to instantly follow God’s directive given in a dream.
As we continue on our own journey this Christmastide, let us listen to God’s urging in our dreaming and prayers.
Attend to homeless families in our inner cities.
Welcome immigrants and refugees fleeing violence, oppression and poverty.
Remember the Haitians living with their families under the bridge in Texas.
Assist those facing natural disasters from fires, floods, hurricanes and the tornadoes recently in Kentucky.
Especially, offer safety and protection to the endangered children of our world: the unborn, the born living lives in poverty, those exposed to physical and sexual violence, pedophilia, bullying, and exclusion.
Some of us can directly offer service. All of us can pray, donate money or goods, advocate for just laws.
The prayer below is found in our GNSH heritage prayers to St. Joseph. Go to Joseph!
Dear Saint Joseph, you listened to God’s call in dream and in prayer.
You cared for Mary, your spouse and your holy child
as refugees fleeing violence, and as peaceful family in Nazareth.
You labored as carpenter and taught Jesus the trade.
You understand our life, our fears, and our needs.
Intercede for us now, we pray.