Until today very little attention is paid to Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, the Ever Virgin Mother of God, and our Saviour Jesus, the Christ, and the Only begotten Son of God.
Was this a romantic love story, like that portrayed in the movies? A young carpenter, who has a crush on Mary, becomes engaged and after marriage, and a sexual consummation, experiences the birth of a son? No, it was not.....It was anything but. But what it was instead, was real love.
There is a big difference. Most people have such a warped understanding of the meaning of love. It is a far cry from the worldly view of self gratification. Joseph was a devoted husband to Mary and her Son, Jesus.
The story was, that of all the staff's gathered around of single and available men of all ages, from Joseph's came a flower. I would have thought that story and how Mary became Joseph's bride, ridiculous at one time, but I witnessed a plant growing from a plank of wood, which I once thought was impossible. She was of age to marry and that was their custom. No talk of love, she was espoused, a duty bound wife to be. What of him? What the movie would like you to believe was that it happened the way it does today. Boy meets girl, then comes marriage, and then comes baby in the baby carriage. We've all heard this one...
The reality of the scene was that Joseph, was depicted as a very young man and she, was just entering womanhood, by our standard, a child. The truth was that Joseph had other children from a previous wife. The film shows the hardship of the two as they make their way to Bethlehem. His job was to protect her and provide for her, by keeping her warm from the harsh elements. One concern he had was, and still is today, "the vehicle". Today, it would be "I hope that the car makes it or I hope that we don't run out of gas." Joseph, was probably worried that the donkey would not be strong enough to make the trip. Then what? He on foot with a pregnant wife and all the distance, what would they do? Would they have enough to eat? What of stormy weather? It could not have been easy caring for two under those circumstances. Yet, I know he loved her, and she grew to love him even though they were not intimate. Love is, a caring and understanding even without words, given to two individuals by God Himself, that just is. Some people refer to it as "love at first sight," for a lack of a better way to describe it, you just know...It's the kind that they had, which grows and endures.
So here is Joseph on the way to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, "his betrothed wife, who was with child." A child he knew that was not his, as he "knew her not." I can't even begin to guess the feelings that were going on within them. The movie narrates the tongue lashing, and impending stoning of Mary, for her believed crime. Joseph loved her enough to take her into his home, having filed no charges against her, as betrothal was binding in the Jewish tradition. They were also shunned by family members, and fear gripped Mary's parents, as well. Did a loving God put them through this trial while they were just getting started on their journey as husband and wife? Yes He did. Joseph received information from an angel in a dream, and he began to understand that the circumstances of Mary, even though she accepted them by agreeing to be the Mother of God, were not going easy for her either. He protected them, and I imagine that she grew to love him for it.
They finally arrive, and the picture is painted for us once again. They show him delivering the baby and wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, because there was no room in the inn. The Inn part is true, but other accounts dispel that Joseph delivered Mary's Son, Jesus. Handmaidens, on the scene, are shown at the bottom of the Icon of the Nativity, washing Jesus. At the same time, Joseph, perplexed on the opposite side or left, was being tempted by the Old man.
Divine intervention once again, sets the couple on the road to Egypt, as Joseph is warned about the impending doom and death of the innocent children by an Angel. Jesus was saved from this dread account by the wisdom of one man, sent to be His non-biological father, and step-father, the husband of Mary His mother. The one who walked a great distance, and unconditionally did all that was humanly possible to fulfill the will of a Divine God, suffered as love demands. The unsung hero, who raised Jesus, and was the man in her life, was Joseph, the carpenter.
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