Each year, when Christmas arrives, we hear the story once again. We know the characters very well: Joseph, the just man; Mary, a young girl who is betrothed; shepherds who heard the good news proclaimed to them by angels ... The picture seems to be the epitome of serenity and peace, but I think that serenity was the last thing on the minds of that young couple.
All the plans had been put in place. Joseph, a good and just man, a carpenter from the village of Nazareth in Galilee was betrothed - formally promised in marriage - to a young virgin who also lived in that place. Perhaps by the time we happen on the scene, the plans had already been put in place for a wedding to take place, and then everything seemed to come crashing down around them. Joseph heard the news that Mary was with child. Being a good and just man, he decided to dismiss her quietly, but then the plot thickened even more: an angel appeared to him and told him that the child was from God, that there was a much larger plan unfolding and that he and his betrothed were being invited to be part of it.
Joseph agreed to cooperate with the plan. He did not dismiss Mary, but then there was yet another unexpected turn of events: a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered
(Lk 2:1). The Romans were very orderly in every aspect of governing. They determined that in order to keep proper records about the population of their empire, everyone would go to their own towns to be registered. So it was that Joseph ... went from the town of Nazareth ... to the city of David called Bethlehem because he was descended from the house and family of David ... along with Mary to whom he was betrothed
(Lk 2:4-5). Knowing that she was with child, Joseph probably would have preferred to keep her safely at home until the child was born, but he didn’t dare disobey the order to partake in the census.
There were other things about poor Joseph’s plans that also had to be changed: when they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room for them to stay in any normal accommodations, and to make things even more complicated, while they were there, the time came for Mary to deliver her child
(Lk 2:6) so he had to find somewhere for her to rest. They ended up not in a hotel, but in a stable, not in a hospital but surrounded by animals. Against the bracing chill of the night air, a stable filled with animals would have provided some warmth and shelter from the wind but it certainly was not ideal. Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes to keep him warm
(Lk 2:7). In the manger, it was not sheets and a pillow that made him comfortable, but the food that had been placed there for the animals.
There was nothing either normal, expected or preferred about the way all this came about, yet the grace of God appeared in this way, bringing salvation to all
(Ti 2:11). We too can find ourselves in situations where even the most well-intentioned of our plans sometimes get turned upside down. In such situations, perhaps we need to pause and consider the possibility that God may be at work. Because Joseph and Mary said yes, their lives were changed forever. Because they said yes, a people who once walked in darkness, who lived in a land of deep darkness ... have seen a great light
Merry Christmas! Buon Natale! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Feliz Natal! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Wesołych Świąt!