This will be a difficult Holiday Season. So many without jobs. So many fearful. Thus, just maybe listening to “Joy to the World” or wishing family and friends (whom we are forbidden to see) a “Merry Christmas” could feel like cognitive dissonance. Just maybe, instead, this could be a good time to remember the challenges Mary and Joseph overcame just prior to Baby Jesus’ birth.
Those were great spiritual and physical challenges, the reminiscence of which could be useful regardless of whether we are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or nothing at all.
We all must struggle with poignant decisions at points in our lives. Accepting momentous obligations qualifies as hugely poignant.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus …Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1 31-34.
Mary, chaste and betrothed to Joseph, accepted her instructions, although she must have known that if Joseph cast her out, her punishment by law would be death by stoning.
Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away quietly … But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared onto him in a dream …
A man of faith as well as compassion, Joseph followed the angel’s command. Not an easy task.
The Long Journey
The physical challenges Mary and Joseph prevailed close to Jesus’ birth might be as useful to remember as their spiritual ones.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2 1-5
Bethlehem is 80 – 100 miles, depending on the route, from Nazareth. It is rough, mountainous, and at the time dangerous terrain. This map shows the route (green dots on the right) Mary and Joseph would have taken, not a direct route but a safer one. The direct route would have taken them through Samarian land, hostile to Jews.
The Story of the Gift of Christmas. Lux Mundi, December 17, 1917
Strong Souls Forge On
Women heavy with child have traveled the overland trails and refugee caravans. Mary forged through as well – probably on foot, not even on a donkey.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1
As the saying goes “What have you done with what you have been given” The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the guy who crystalized the meaning of Christianity was born in a bed of straw.
The Soul Must Feel Its Worth
There is one carol that could help if in these trying times of Covid-19 and mandates your business is failing or your children have not received proper schooling since the beginning of 2020. That is the carol that speaks of the soul feeling its worth. Here is a link to the incredible voice of Leontyne Price singling Oh Holy Night.