Mary’s break-up line to St. Joseph
Dear Diary, “12 Days of Christmas”: Day 6/12 – Contemplating the Holy Family Love in the joyful mystery
December 18, 2023.
On this ordinary Monday, as we recited the joyful mystery of the Holy Rosary and delved into the Gospel narrating the life of Saint Joseph, something extraordinary unfolded in my mind. The Christmas story, with its enchanting tales, usually revolves around Mary and the baby Jesus, but today, my thoughts wandered into uncharted territory.
As I immersed myself in my daily 10 minutes with Jesus, my wild imagination took flight. I’ve come to appreciate this imaginative side of mine—it weaves stories, provides perspective, and, on occasion, justifies my moments of inaction, reminding me that looking cool in jail is never an option.
Now I have to put this caveat in front of everyone.
One, I have no biblical instruction whatsoever.
Two, I am not a biblical scholar; and
Three, this is just the best fragment of my imagination.
So straight to the first joyful mystery ⸻ the Annunciation
Today, the spotlight is on Saint Joseph, mapping out his own journey through the joyful mystery of the birth of Jesus. But before we dive into this narrative, let me offer a disclaimer. Firstly, I possess no biblical instruction. Secondly, I’m far from being a biblical scholar, and thirdly, what follows is merely the finest fragment of my imagination.
So, straight into the first joyful mystery—the Annunciation. In Mary’s case, the Angel’s divine revelation unfolded directly to her. She, the chosen one, was blessed among women, destined to bear the saviour of the world. The Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and as a virgin, Mary conceived. Saint Joseph’s experience, however, was unique; his visitation came in a dream.
Picture this: Joseph, betrothed to the morning star, the fairest of them all. Mary, the one who captured his heart among all the women in Israel summoned him for a meeting, and in his anticipation, Joseph agreed. When they finally met, she dropped the bombshell— “I am pregnant,” she declared, offering no further explanation.
Joseph’s world collapsed around him, leaving him in a whirlwind of emotions. How? Why? Mary? Anger, pity, and sorrow danced within him, knowing that she was still a single woman and such news must not be made public. Yet, as he gazed at her—the fairest of them all—she offered no further explanation. Like a dove holding an olive branch, she sat before him, harmless and captivating, her beauty stealing Joseph’s breath away. “Mary, tell me you don’t want to marry me rather than say you are pregnant. What have I done to you that you reject me so?”
Mary, grappling with the changes in her body, seemed exhausted with Joseph’s inquiry. Her intention was merely to provide information, to prevent Joseph from branding her a fraud later on. However, she couldn’t unravel the mystery of her pregnancy. With a sweet, gentle voice, like a soothing breeze, she bid him goodbye, saying, “Joseph, do whatever you have to do. I understand.” And she left. Oh, poor Joseph, shattered by the unexpected news, which felt like the ultimate breakup line.
Restless and heartbroken, Joseph forced a smile throughout the day after Mary departed from their meeting place. Repeating to himself, “She is chaste. She will always be chaste. My Mary is innocent,” he grappled with the confusion of her rejection and the revelation of her pregnancy. “Why, Mary? Why have you rejected me so? What have I done to my amiable one admired by all? Who stole the heart of my little betrothed one from me? Who has taken the cause of my joy?”
With nowhere to seek an explanation, Joseph concluded that his love had chosen another over him. Despite his turmoil, he decided not to create a scene, choosing to dismiss her quietly at night. It was a painful act, undertaken to spare Mary from societal shame and himself from humiliation. Still, he found no peace. Deeply in love, he resolved that even though she carried a child, he would protect her and the unborn from embarrassment or harm. Dismissing her, in his view, became the best course of action. (Remember, they weren’t married yet, but betrothed, despite some translations suggesting divorce.)
As Joseph lay down to sleep, he found solace in his nightly prayers, pouring out his heart to the Father of his ancestors. “Oh, Father, hallowed be thy name. Today has been a mix of gratitude and hurt. Without a doubt, my beloved has found someone else, and though my love for her persists, I’ve decided to discreetly dismiss her to spare her from shame. I don’t want people to perceive Mary as anything less than virtuous. Please protect her and her child, and I pledge to assist them in any way I can. And, Abba, no more matchmaking, please. My heart can bear it no longer. Just guide me in my carpentry work, and I’ll devote my life to serving you.” With that, he settled into bed.
Meanwhile, in the celestial realms, Angel Gabriel bowed before the throne of God, seeking divine guidance. “Is it time for me to visit Joseph and announce our salvation plan? He is needlessly troubled. Shall I go to him?” God, with omniscient wisdom, responded, “Go, but appear to him in his dreams. He is a man of great faith. Don’t go about appearing to him physically at his workshop less you petrify him.” With a bow of reverence, Gabriel left the presence of God.
In Joseph’s dream, Gabriel approached him while he worked at his wooden workstation. “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph,” he called, and with each repetition, the light around them intensified until it enveloped them in brilliance. Familiar with such divine encounters, just like his ancestor Joseph-the-dreamer, Joseph awaited the message. The Angel said, “Why are you troubled, Joseph?”. Joseph poured out his heart, sharing the pain of Mary’s breakup line with her unexpected pregnancy, while seeking wisdom on his decision to dismiss her secretly.
With heavenly reassurance, the Angel spoke, “Oh, Joseph, the righteous one, the true son of David. Fear not to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her is conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son named Jesus, destined to save his people from their sins.” Overwhelmed with joy, Joseph bowed in gratitude, exclaiming, “I never doubted her chastity.” “So Mary didn’t choose another over me.”
Returning to the heavens, Angel Gabriel reported to God with a heart full of awe. “The Almighty One, your human – Joseph is indeed righteous. He received the news without doubt or argument, unlike Mary who sought understanding, He was more thrilled Mary didn’t reject him. Truly, you are the Almighty, pairing the best of mankind to bring forth a part of you into the world.” Angel Gabriel chanted ‘Glory to God’ and ‘Glory to the Lamb who will be born’ as he bowed concluding his celestial report, and God dismissed him.
The second joyful mystery ⸻ the Visitation
Upon waking, Joseph hurried to Mary’s house, yearning for a private meeting. As she entered the room where he awaited, Joseph bowed before her. Confusion etched Mary’s face, prompting her to inquire, “What are you doing?” With a profound shift in demeanour, Joseph shared the divine revelation he had received in his dreams. “The Angel visited me and revealed that you carry the son of God within you. I must name him Jesus, for He is the saviour of the world.” Bowing again, Joseph praised the Most High, acknowledging Mary as the chaste ark of the covenant, bearing God’s son. Mary, in turn, treasured these sacred moments in her heart.
Eager to solidify their union, Joseph proposed, “Before you depart to visit your kinswoman, Elizabeth, let’s finalize the wedding.” And so, they were married.
Joseph, overwhelmed with love, revelled in the privilege of being the earthly father to the son of God. His joy knew no bounds as he contemplated being the husband to a woman highly favoured by God, cared for by angels. Filled with gratitude, he busied himself, redoubling efforts to prepare his home for the impending arrival of the “light of the world.”
Saint Joseph, diligent and hardworking, emerged as a protective husband, a loving father, and a kind soul. Everything about him exuded beauty, goodness, and purity. To Joseph, this was not mere perfection but a calling from God. Selected to be the earthly father of Jesus and the husband of Mary, he embodied capability and grace.
The Third joyful mystery ⸻ the Birth of Jesus
With his wife now under his roof in Nazareth, Joseph diligently prepared for the imminent arrival of his son. However, the tranquillity of Nazareth was disrupted by the decree of Quirinius, the governor of Syria, demanding a census following Emperor Augustus’s order. Joseph, a descendant of the house of David, found himself grappling with the challenge. “For godsakes, what is the problem of Augustus and Quirinius?” he must have pondered. “How am I supposed to travel with my heavily pregnant wife to Bethlehem in Judea?”
Resigned to the decree, Joseph and Mary packed their belongings, hoping to reach Bethlehem before the baby’s arrival. Yet, as we often experience, God’s plans unfold like a puff of smoke in the wind.
In the midst of their journey, Mary expressed concern to Joseph. “Joseph, I think I feel pain.” Perplexed, Joseph asked, “Pain? What pain?” Mary, with urgency in her voice, exclaimed, “Our baby is coming!” As the realization set in, Joseph frantically sought an inn for shelter. However, due to the widespread travel prompted by Quirinius’s decree, their search was in vain. Forced by circumstance and the impending birth, they could only find refuge in a humble manger.
A pang of regret swept over Joseph, a skilled carpenter, as he witnessed Mary giving birth in the open space amidst various animals. Turning adversity into opportunity, he channelled his wisdom as a carpenter. Gathering wood, he crafted a crib for Jesus—a comforting space for the newborn. With a craftsman’s touch, Joseph also fashioned the best makeshift tent, offering warmth and shelter, unlike any seen before in Israel. (HA, MY IMAGINATION WANTS TO KILL ME TODAY, BUT LET’S CONTINUE). 😂🤣
In the humblest of settings, Joseph’s carpentry skills transformed a simple manger into a sacred space for the birth of Jesus, the long-awaited Savior.
In the sacred moment when Mary’s boy came into the world, the manger radiated with an otherworldly glow. The sky itself appeared different, and the hushed animals stood in silent reverence. It seemed as if the very earth held its breath for a fleeting moment. Outside, the air transformed, stars danced with new hues, and the night, despite its darkness, mirrored the brilliance of day. Joy, peace, and happiness permeated the atmosphere, revealing a celestial celebration that mortal eyes couldn’t behold.
Amidst this cosmic spectacle, Joseph, absorbing the extraordinary scene, was drawn to the midwife’s gesture. Entrusting the newborn into Joseph’s trembling hands, the midwife presented Mary, adorned in a beauty transcending earthly description. Never before had Joseph’s heart melted with such profound love. Although he had known love in abundance, cradling Jesus forged a connection so profound that Joseph was overcome with tears.
As Joseph bowed in reverence to the divine miracle nestled in his arms—the son of God—he hesitated to steal even a kiss, recognizing the intensity of the inaccessible light he cradled. Holding the begotten, not made, God from God, true God from true God, Joseph grappled with a mixture of awe and humility. His heart echoed with, “Glory to God in the highest, Your kingdom come,” as he contemplated the mystery of the Word becoming flesh.
When Jesus, with eyes shining like a radiant lamp, opened them, Joseph’s realisation deepened. This was not only God but also fully man. Overwhelmed by love, Joseph showered Jesus’s baby face with kisses, whispering in awe, “Who am I, that you are so mindful of me? Mortal man, that you bless me so?”
The fourth joyful mystery ⸻ the presentation to the Magi
A few months after Jesus’s birth, following a long day’s work and calming the awakened Jesus disturbed by donkeys, Joseph lay exhausted on his bed, ready to succumb to sleep. A sudden knock on the door startled him. Opening it, he was met by a caravan of distinguished individuals, seemingly lost. These Magi, men of importance, revealed they had journeyed from Persia to pay homage to his newborn son, the king.
Joseph, taken aback, scanned the quiet street to ensure their arrival had not attracted attention. Running back to Mary, he whispered, “I thought this was our pretty little secret with God.” Mary, with a serene assurance, responded that if the heavens rejoiced at Jesus’s birth, the earth, too, would celebrate for those chosen to witness God’s revelation.
Encouraged by Mary, Joseph invited the Magi in. As they beheld Jesus in Mary’s arms, they bowed in worship, presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Thrilled, Joseph and Mary pondered these offerings, discussing them and praying to witness their sons’ unfolding destinies.
Yet, Joseph’s respite was brief. An angelic visitation to him during sleep warned of a threat to Jesus’s life, compelling the family to flee to Egypt urgently. With little time to bid farewell to family, they carried the wise men’s gifts and left their home for the safety of their child, beginning a new life among strangers.
Joseph, with a dual responsibility, ensured discreet movement, ample provisions, and the safety of mother and child. Despite the challenges, he lavished Jesus with the love of a devoted father.
Reflecting on this extraordinary role, it shocks me to think that Joseph knew that the person He was taking care of was the master of the universe Joseph marvelled at caring for the Master of the universe, who could call anything into existence, yet chose a humble existence. Even though Joseph and Mary were Jesus’s earthly parents, they found safety in His presence.
The fifth joyful mystery ⸻ the finding of Jesus at the temple
Picture St. Joseph, contemplating the visits of the Magi, witnessing Jesus take his first steps and utter his initial words. Imagine the yearning in Jesus’s heart for his father’s return home, eager for warm hugs and treats from the streets. Envision Jesus perched on Joseph’s neck, seeking a better view at the marketplace, playing in Joseph’s arms, reporting to him, and patiently waiting for his father to provide everything.
Consider St. Joseph, teaching Jesus elementary skills in trade, carpentry, and basic errands. Picture Joseph taking pride in his only son, the apple of his eye, the joy of his soul. Envision Jesus rubbing Joseph’s feet or playfully hiding his sandals upon his return from work. Perhaps, they had a pet they both cared for daily, and Joseph ensured Jesus followed through on all responsibilities.
Now, transport yourself to the moment when Jesus went missing, and they searched for him for three days. Imagine Joseph’s frustration, thinking, ‘God only gave me one job, and I still can’t do it well.’ A relatable frustration that echoes in all our lives. Joseph, petrified at the thought of an Angel visiting for having lost God amid His own creation, searched every home, every corner, every street, and every caravan. The depth of love in these ordinary events is profound.
Contemplating this mystery fills me with awe, amazement, and thrill. In these ordinary circumstances, we discover that we, too, can serve God.
Now, let your imagination wander. If given one day as the custodian of infant Jesus, what would you do? Would you throw a party, sing, dance, or cause a ruckus? The possibilities spark the imagination. Let these ordinary yet extraordinary events inspire us to find moments of service to God in our everyday lives.
Imagination can be a powerful force. My mind has been running like a wild horse. I’ll pause here; this reflection is already a captivating text in itself – I can only hope y’all get to the last line.
For other episodes in this 12 Days of Christmas series see:
Day 1/12: Spit-proof Grace at: https://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/day-1-spit-proof-grace-my-desculpe-obrigada-moment/
2/12: My Mum – the unbeatable champion of all time at: https://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/my-mum/
3/12: Were you a truth-teller as a child at: https://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/truth-teller/
Day 4/12: Can you pray? at: https://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/day-4-can-you-pray/
Day 5/12: My ode to fear at: https://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/ode-to-fear/