Seeds of the Word - Christmas and Joseph’s drama

Photo: The Nativity, Gari Melchers, Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Fredericksburg, Virginia Photo: The Nativity, Gari Melchers, Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Fredericksburg, Virginia

The Mother of God depends on the love and audacity of her husband to give birth to our Redeemer

When a newborn baby is almost due, the attention and care of family and friends focus on the pregnant mother and then on the infant that came to life. Nowadays, the father has a more participatory role during pregnancy and birth, but in the end, he is overlooked. In the Advent and Christmas seasons, we used to do the same and focus our love and devotion on baby Jesus and Virgin Mary. For this reason, I would like us to experience with Joseph the drama he went through in order to become the surrogate father of the Son of God made man.

Joseph, a righteous man from the house of David (see Matthew 1:19-20) is a man of integrity and a loving husband. He is deeply in love with Mary and is betrothed to her, yearning for the days when he will be able to grow a family with his wife.

But the unexpected happens. He suddenly learns that Mary is pregnant, and the baby is not his. This is a good enough reason to break the heart of the finest man. He loves Mary, but how to keep living with her if she is now pregnant without his intervention? Jewish laws permit divorce. In this case, Mary can be accused of committing adultery, but she would be stoned with no mercy. After long nights awake and several days of not even wanting to eat, Joseph resolves how to proceed. His love for his wife is so deep that, despite his sorrow, he will repudiate her in secret. This way no one will know, and she will be safe –His commitment to her is admirable.

An angel gives him light at that point and explains to Joseph the origins of the child Mary is expecting. Everything changes. Joseph is now thrilled and anxious. He feels upon his shoulders the big responsibility of becoming the surrogate father of that Child, but he trusts God will guide him.

Nine months go by, sometimes slow, sometimes swiftly, and the hour comes. But it comes just when Joseph has to travel over 80 miles with Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to enroll themselves. A good man always fulfills his civil duties, and this was a precept from the Caesar (Luke 2:1). One wonders why everything always has to happen at the most challenging times.

Because of the enrollment, when they arrive in Bethlehem they cannot find any place to stay that night. To make everything worse, Mary feels she will give birth any minute. Feeling his heart throbbing, the palms of his hands sweating, and a deep anxiety invading him, Joseph knocks on the door of inn after inn and home after home — houses used to have an upper room for people to stay for the night — just to hear once and again that there is no room for them. Joseph glances at Mary and realizes the time for her to have her baby has come. If he doesn’t act quickly, the baby will be born in the middle of the street!

There is no time to waste! In a moment of courage and audacity, Joseph decides on the unthinkable: sheltering Mary in a cave that is used to keep animals at night. At least the mother and her child will not be cold in there. Once and again, Joseph grasps Mary’s hand and encourages her, anxiously, yet convinced of what he is saying: “Here I am, Mary. Here I am. You’re not alone. I love you.” The Mother of God depends on the love and audacity of her husband to give birth to our Redeemer.

As sweat drops roll down his forehead, Joseph helps Mary to lie down in the straw. Finally, the Child is born while Joseph receives him into his hands. He kisses his forehead and tenderly gives him to Mary, who embraces her Son warmly. This is how Joseph, a righteous man from the house of David, witnessed the biggest portent made by God thus far. (To be continued…)

Be passionate about our faith!

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - December 2018

Mauricio I. Pérez

Mauricio I. Pérez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is