As my husband, John, and I awaited the birth of our first child, there was a lot to do. We took childbirth and CPR classes. We discussed names. And we tried to prepare ourselves for a life-altering experience.
John did a lot of work. He painted our spare bedroom. He picked out and assembled the crib. And he made the curtains by sewing some colorful panels from sheets. I am always grateful for the quiet, hard-working, and supportive way John got ready for our big event.
His example helps me as I focus on St. Joseph and how he would have prepared for the birth of Jesus. This quiet, hard-working, and faithful saint must have been an absolute rock as he and Mary headed off to Bethlehem. Think about what he had just experienced.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us Joseph was betrothed to Mary when he found out she was with child. Ready to divorce Mary, Joseph had a dream in which an angel reassured him. And Joseph awoke and accepted everything. He was told not to be afraid and just go along with God’s plan. Wow! That is faith.
He took Mary into his home and maybe this carpenter started to build a cradle. However, his year of surprises continued as he now had to head off to Bethlehem with his pregnant wife for the Roman census.
I imagine Joseph saying, “Really, God! I have done as you have asked. I have accepted Mary and this child, and now we have to head out 90 miles to Bethlehem. Anything else, Lord?”
Of course we know there would be more, including an exile in Egypt after another dream. But for now the couple hit the road and took a grueling trip. Online maps show that it is a 31-hour walk along Route 60. The donkey certainly helped, but it had to have been so hard.
Still, Joseph believed. He put his fear and pride aside and helped Mary make the journey.
And they made it. But the Gospel of Luke tells us there were more hurdles: no room in the inn. How hard it must have been for Joseph to search for a place to stay only to end up in a stable. He watched his wife give birth—maybe he even helped her. And he must have wondered about his own yes to God.
But I like to think that in that miraculous and amazing moment when Jesus was born, Joseph found peace and understanding. As a star shone brightly and a chorus of angels sang, maybe Joseph got his own epiphany: “Ah yes, Lord. I do not know what is ahead. But I see in this child all that is good and holy.”
Perhaps the words of Isaiah 9:6 echoed in his mind. He would not know the music from Handel, but I imagine him praying: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
And then, like any new father, Joseph probably said, “Now go to sleep, my little one. We are all tired and could use a little rest.”