Joseph, the silent saint, who has no words recorded in all of scripture and Mary, who doesn’t have much more, are much like our modern day families. They have to take a trip while Mary’s pregnant and it’s a disaster. It seems they didn’t anticipate that they’d be unable to find lodging. I can imagine the scene:
Mary: “What do you mean there’s no room?
Joseph: “There’s no room! What do you want me to do, build one?”
Mary: “Well you are a carpenter!
Both Laugh hysterically and the fight is over. But then, Mary’s water breaks. I imagine people in the front of the inn looking on and wondering what they’re going to do. Finally the innkeeper takes pity and says:
“Look you can have the back area for the night–I made up a makeshift crib out of the manger. Those animals can go without a meal for one night! Mazel Tov and I’m sorry, but it’s all that I have.”
Joseph: “What more do we need? Thank you for your generosity. A blessing on your house.”
I can hear the two of them complaining as they await the baby. I wonder if a midwife came out to help or if Joseph had to deliver the baby? Either way, it had to be a crazy, haphazard, confusing situation.
All the craziness: Mary discovering that she’s a pregnant virgin. Joseph thinking that the law gives him the right to stone Mary for getting pregnant while being betrothed to him. Joseph having a crazy dream that must have stunned people when he took Mary into his home. Was that an admission of guilt?—“I’m the father.” Imagine his bravery as people would chastise: “Sex out of wedlock? The old guy couldn’t wait to get his hands on the virgin.”
And the dreams continue for Joseph, who can’t possibly know which end is up. “Take the child to Egypt–NOW!” They lose him in a caravan. “OMG…I lost the Son of God.”
This family has nothing on any of ours. Strange soccer fields. Bad grades. Puking kids. Dogs and cats. We don’t get to hear about Jesus’ teen age years. Too bad, that must have been some adventure. And somewhere in there Joseph presumably dies. I often like to think that this is when Jesus begins his public ministry. After all, he’s the man of the house now and he has to become who he is.
A family—just like all of our families. Chaotic and often haphazard we love our families despite it all.
And so does God.
God chooses to become a person in a family–a poor family, rife with the troubles of the day. Imagine Joseph showing the son of God how to plane a piece of wood knowing that he could do it better without trying as hard as he does. Imagine Mary watching her son die on the cross. Imagine Jesus knowing not only that he would suffer and die for the sins of humanity but that he’d also put his mother through all this pain and his father would have to struggle to raise him. His family would not be rich–in fact, they’d live in abject poverty.
God’s family–a poor family. A chosen family by God to be God’s.
I imagine Mary and Joseph meeting again in heaven and Joseph embracing his wife. And Jesus smiling at the reunion and the redemption of all that has been suffered.
And the family lives on…in peace.