Poem – healing in darkness

Consider Noah and Jonah and Jesus.
At one point, each was separated
from the rest of the world.
Through their time away
hidden they were able
to heal and bring salvation.

Also Joseph,
he was in prison for many years
but that put him in the right place
to be able to rescue the entire Jewish people
from certain extinction.

There is something for us
about these stories of people
retreating from the world
in order to save the world.
They are enclosed
in quiet dark places
they are like seeds
waiting for the right time
for bringing new life.

Remember when you are in
those dark times.
You are not being buried.
You’re being planted.

Everything starts in darkness.
It is not an end.
It is a transition
time to change
a time of stilling yourself
for something new to come.
Go into those times mindfully
and with rejoicing.

Where is Joseph?

Where is Joseph?

He’s talked to, and about, but he never talks. And then later he is completely absent.

Early on in the story, an angel tells him in a dream to not divorce Mary. He acts, but says nothing.

“But after he had decided what he was going to do, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be concerned about taking Mary as your wife, because the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you shall name him Jesus (meaning ‘Yahweh saves’) because he will free people from their sins.’” (MT 1:20-21, in “The Nativity”)

Later, another angel speaks to him, and he is again silent.

“The Magi left, and an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel said ‘Get up! Flee to Egypt with the baby and his mother and stay there until I tell you it is safe to return. Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.’ That very night he got up, and taking Mary and the child, escaped to Egypt. They stayed there until King Herod died. This fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea who said: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (MT 2:13-15, “The flight into Egypt”)

Yet again, an angel tells him what to do and he acts, but does not say anything. In this story, he is warned in two different dreams.

“Herod died, and an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was in Egypt, saying ‘Get up! Take the child and his mother and return to Israel, because those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ Joseph immediately traveled to Israel with Jesus and Mary. While on the way he learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was king over Judea, so he was afraid to travel there. He was warned in a dream as well, so he went to Galilee instead and settled in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled the words of the prophets who said “He will be called a Nazarene.” (MT 2:19-23, “The return to Nazareth”)

He’s very attentive to God’s message – he protects Jesus three different times after being told what to do in a dream. He doesn’t waver or question. The Gospel says that he acts immediately, without question.

But then it is as if he disappears after the early years.

He’s mentioned indirectly when Jesus stays behind at the Temple, but is present.

“His parents were astonished when they saw him. Mary said ‘Son! Why have you treated us this way? Your father and I have been worried sick looking for you.’” (Luke 2:48, in “In his Father’s house”)

Later on, Joseph is mentioned, but not present, when Jesus goes to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in Galilee. Where is he? Only his sisters are in the synagogue – none of the rest of the family are present.

“They were amazed and said ‘How did he get to be so wise, and how is he able to perform miracles? Isn’t this Joseph the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother Mary, and isn’t he the brother of James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters sitting here with us? Where does he get these ideas?’ They were offended by what he said.” (MT 13:54b-57a, MK 6:2b-3, LK 4:22, “Rejected in his hometown”)

Later, only Jesus’ mother and siblings come to see him while he’s talking with a crowd.

“His mother and siblings came to him while he was speaking with a large crowd, but they couldn’t reach him. They sent word that they wanted to speak with him. Someone in the crowd told him ‘Look, your mother and siblings are standing outside waiting to speak with you.’ Instead of going out, he replied ‘Who is my family?’ Indicating his followers who were seated in a circle around him, he said ‘Here they are! Whoever hears and does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and sister.’” (MT 12:46-50, MK 3:31-35, LK 8:19-21, “True Relationships”)

At Jesus’ death, Mary is present, and Jesus makes arrangements for her to be taken care of by his disciple John. Presumably he would not have done this if Joseph were still alive.

“Jesus’ mother, along with Mary Magdalene and his aunt Mary (who was the wife of Clopas), were standing by his cross. When Jesus noticed his mother standing with the disciple he loved, he said ‘Woman, here is your son.’ To the disciple he said, “Here is your mother.” From that point on the disciple made her a part of his family. (JN 19:25-27, “Jesus’ provision for his mother”)

So where is Joseph? We can assume that he died, rather than divorcing Mary. So why is this not mentioned? Quite often the deaths of important people are mentioned in great detail in the scriptures. Why was he left out? And why are there no recorded words from him? Is Joseph an afterthought, a bit player?

Perhaps the image of him isn’t filled in completely so that we can see ourselves in his role. We all are to follow his example and respond immediately to God’s message. We are to protect Jesus at all cost. We are to support him and those who bring him into the world.

(all Gospel readings are from “The Condensed Gospel”)

Poem – the two Josephs

Joseph (of Nazareth)
held Jesus the baby,
wrapped in swaddling cloths.
Just born,
fragile,
holy child.

Joseph (of Arimathea)
held Jesus the man,
wrapped in burial cloths.
Just crucified,
fragile,
holy man.

Two different Josephs
attended Jesus,
as he entered this world
and as he left it.
Two different Josephs
were with him
and tenderly
held him,
wrapped him in cloth.
Two different men
cared for this man
who cares for all of us.

The genealogy of Jesus Christ

Jesus was about thirty years old when he began to teach, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Jesus, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Symeon, the son of Judas, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

LK 3:23-38

The escape and return of the Holy Family

The flight into Egypt.

The Magi left, and an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel said “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the baby and his mother and stay there until I tell you it is safe to return. Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.”

That very night he got up, and taking Mary and the child, escaped to Egypt. They stayed there until King Herod died. This fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea who said: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

MT 2:13-15

The massacre of the innocents

Herod flew into a rage when he realized that the Magi had outwitted him. He gave orders that all male children who were two years or less who lived in and around Bethlehem were to be massacred. This was because the Magi had told him that the star first appeared two years earlier.

This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah who said “Cries of tears and mourning were heard in Ramah, Rachel weeping for her children, and she was unable to be consoled because they are dead.”

MT 2:16-18

The return to Nazareth.

Herod died, and an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was in Egypt, saying “Get up! Take the child and his mother and return to Israel, because those who wanted to kill the child are dead.”

Joseph immediately traveled to Israel with Jesus and Mary. While on the way he learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was king over Judea, so he was afraid to travel there. He was warned in a dream as well, so he went to Galilee instead and settled in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled the words of the prophets who said “He will be called a Nazarene.”

MT 2:19-23

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, becoming strong, wise, and filled with God’s grace.

LK 2:40

In his father’s house.

The family travel to Jerusalem for the Passover festival every year. When he was 12 years old, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem while his family traveled back home to Nazareth. His parents didn’t notice his absence the first day because they thought he was walking with friends among all the other travelers. Then they began to look for him among their friends and relatives. Not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to continue their search. They finally found him after three days. He was sitting among the teachers in the Temple complex, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him talk was amazed at the depth of his understanding and answers. His parents were astonished when they saw him.

Mary said “Son! Why have you treated us this way? Your father and I have been worried sick looking for you.” Jesus replied “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know that I would be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he was saying.

Then he returned to Nazareth and obeyed them, and Mary stored up this story in her heart. Jesus grew in wisdom and height, as well as in favor with God and people.

LK 2:41-52

The birth

At that time Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that a census should be taken of the whole empire. This was at the time when Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone was required to go to his family’s ancestral hometown for the census.

Because Joseph was descended from King David, he had to travel from his home in Nazareth in Galilee, to Bethlehem, the city of David in Judea. He took his fiancée Mary with him.

It came time for her to give birth while they were there. She gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and placed him in a manger, because there was no place for them to stay at the inn.

LK 2:1-7

The Nativity

Here is the story concerning the birth of Jesus. His mother Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, but while she was still a virgin it became known that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Because her fiancé Joseph was an honorable and righteous man, he decided to break their engagement off privately rather than publicly disgracing her.

But after he had decided what he was going to do, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying “Joseph, son of David, don’t be concerned about taking Mary as your wife, because the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you shall name him Jesus (meaning “Yahweh saves”) because he will free people from their sins.”

All of this fulfilled the prophecy spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold the virgin will become pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.” (Which means “God is with us.”)

After Joseph woke up, he did as the angel had told him. He took Mary as his wife, but did not know her intimately until she gave birth. And Joseph named him Jesus.

MT 1:18-25