The Feast of the Holy Family – Book Excerpt from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

His Time has Arrived

            My son, you are now a man. I never doubted God’s word though I did not understand how He would accomplish His plans. I trusted His care for me when I knew the consequences. Fear was not there but questions yes. I pondered many things.

            My eyes have seen Shepherds and Kings praise you. My ears have heard horrible news as some sought to kill you. My heart dropped at the prophecy of a good holy man and the pronouncement of a trusted daughter of Israel.

            I believed you and I were safe even as we fled through the desert.  I should not have been surprised when bandits provided us hospitality. Even though I was led to understand what would happen, I still felt amazement as the idols crashed to the ground. I was overwhelmed when the high Priest bowed as he said the idols did.

            I was cared for among strangers who became friends. I waited for the Angels to direct my husband whom I trust with my soul and my life.

            Time has passed and now my son is a man. We have been to the Temple many times, but this trip is special, his first as a man.

            I am watching him. Does he know I am watching him? He is with Joseph and the other men. Then he is with his friends as their energy drives them to horseplay. I was a bit shocked when I saw Jesus with the other young men as they noticed the young women with us. They tried to conceal their interest, they failed. Jesus had a far off look on his face as if he was looking beyond the beauty of the girls. 

          We will arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow. Our group will join many others who are journeying there. Everyone is excited for the feast. I too am excited but also I wonder, how will my son the man be this time in Jerusalem?

 Mary

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The Passover in Jerusalem

            We are in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Mary, Jesus, myself, my cousins, nephews and uncles, our friends and neighbors. O glorious day! During our stay in Egypt, I dreamed of the Temple, yearned for the Temple. We have been to it since our return, but this trip is special. Jesus is now a man, He is twelve years old. He traveled up here spending most of his time with his cousins who are the same age as he or nearly so, all of them staying in a group. I spent some time walking near them, they argue like old men, each trying to impress the others with their knowledge of Scripture.  Jesus joined in but not quite like the others. He did not argue or try to defeat them, rather he seemed more like he was trying to find the deeper meanings in the questions and explain the meaning to the others. Sometimes they were amazed at his conclusions, at other times, they refused to agree even if his argument made sense.

            We will return to Nazareth in a few days, I wish this time would not end. Mary is happy, truly joyous at seeing her Son become a man. She speaks of her love and pride for him. I am happy for Jesus and happy for her.

            God is good. To be able to pray in the Temple, to spend time with my wife and son, to be able to share this special moment with my kindred in such a joyous event at such a special time in Jesus’ life.  It feels as if my heart will leap from my chest, my mouth wants to shout Alleluia.

            Thank You Father for this blessing! I will remember this time the rest of my life. Indeed, I don’t think this joy will ever leave me during the rest of my life.

Joseph

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   Where is He

            Panic! Terror! Where is our son? The celebration of the Pasch ended and it was time to journey home. As in our travels here I traveled with the men, Mary traveled with the women. The young men all kept together continuing their arguments. I was certain Jesus was with them.

            Jesus was with us before we started the trip, I saw him standing with the group he came up with. After we started I was engaged in conversation with several friends and family members. They all wanted to talk about Jesus and how impressed they were with him. “A fine young man,” said my uncle. “A scholar of the Torah at such a young age,” said a friend. “He is wise beyond his years,” was the opinion of many. I found Mary and she was having the same experience among the women.  Many of the women said how he will make a wonderful husband one day, especially those who had daughters to marry off. After two days of our friends and family singing his praises, we decided to tell him how proud we were of him and of the wonderful things people were saying about him.

            We sought him among the young men, but he was not there. We then checked to see if he was looking for us among the men or the women, and he was not there. We then asked the young men where Jesus was, they said they had not seen him since we started home. My heart that was lifted to heaven days before was now dashed to the ground. Mary, ever calm and steady had fear and tears in her eyes. There was only one thing we could do. We hurried back to Jerusalem, our prayers moving up to heaven faster than our feet are skimming across the ground. 

            Mary is the most scared I have ever seen her. She is quaking   Not even when we fled to Egypt did she appear so scared. Jesus is not among our group. I thought he was with her or the young men, she thought he was with me or the young men. I am trying to look calm so as to not add to her fear, but I am in a panic as well. Jerusalem was a madhouse with the crowds for the Passover, so many pilgrims and so many predators to feast on the pilgrims. Please Lord, keep Him safe.

            I should have been more vigilant at keeping my eye on him. He has never done anything to cause us distress. He certainly would not leave us on his own without telling us. He must be aware that such an action would cause us great grief. That is why I am so afraid. Is he alive? Will we find his body on the side of the road as we return to Jerusalem? I mustn’t speak these fears to Mary. I must find Jesus and I must protect Mary. God help me to do both.      

Joseph

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 I Have Failed

            I am a failure. I have failed my son and I have failed God. Jesus is lost. How does a mother lose her child? How do you lose the gift that was given to you by God?

            Elizabeth said all generations will call me blessed. No, all generations will remember me as the mother who lost her Son, the Messiah!

            Joseph is blaming himself and trying to comfort me. I don’t want to be comforted, I want Jesus.  I want him here with me so I know he is safe.

            I am also a failure as a wife. My husband is deeply distressed. I should be easing his pain, but I can’t because my pain is so great.

            We have fled for our lives. We were captured by bandits and lived among strangers yet we have always been together. This truly must be the sword the Simeon prophesied. I am no longer whole. I am shattered, torn asunder. A sword has cleaved my soul. Where is my son? Jesus, where are you?

 Mary

———————————————————————————————————————He is Safe

            When we arrived in Jerusalem we first went to the room we had stayed in but he was not there. We prayed together and then decided to search for him at the Temple. We found him. He is safe!

            He was seated with the Priests and Elders as they discussed the Scriptures. I heard his voice as I approached. He was asking a question most profound that seemed to stump all who were gathered with him. He waited for a bit and when it became obvious by their silence that they were unsure how to answer he offered a thought. I smiled at the way he did it. Instead of making a pronouncement to his seniors he answered his own question with another question, seeking their opinion and approval.

            Mary stood next me watching the whole moment, she smiled at the way Jesus was teaching those whose job it is to teach. She wanted to call to him, as did I, but we were transfixed by what we were seeing and hearing.

            The whole company of men nodded in approval at his proposal and then added some points of their own. After they had finished we called to him.

            He turned his eyes to us, as his gaze met mine I felt a lump in my throat and a tightness in my chest.  I tried to speak but could not. Mary however did. She chided him for disappearing on us. His gaze met hers and I will never forget his reply, “Did you not know I had to be about my Father’s work?”

            He got up and rejoined us. We are traveling home together, a family. I have many questions I want to ask, but they will wait. Jesus is with us. Mary is content with that. Soon we will be home safe. After that, I will try to find the answers to my questions.

 Joseph

———————————————————————————————————————He has Never Done Anything Like This

            We are back in Machmas. It was here that we discovered Jesus was missing. He is with us now. He is asleep a few feet from me. I can see His cloak rising with each breath. I can hear the sweet sound of his breathing. Sleep eludes me but just watching my son sleep is more restful than sleep.

            Joseph is by my side. He is tossing and turning in his sleep. He has not stopped apologizing to me since we found Jesus. It was not his fault. It was not my fault either. Jesus has never done anything his entire life to cause us heartache, that is until now.

            That is the reason my heart froze with fear. He was missing. He would never deliberately separate himself from me or his father in a way that would cause us to despair. I feared the worse. Was he captured by the king’s men? Was he attacked by robbers? Was he attacked by a wild beast? So many fears flooded my mind and drowned my soul in a sea of sorrow.

            But he did just that. He left us without saying a word. I still can hardly believe it. I am trying to understand his reason, “To be about His Father’s work.”

            He did not mean Joseph!

            I understood. He meant His heavenly Father. The reason He was sent to earth. I remembered Simeon’s words and yes it did feel like my heart was pierced by a sword.

            He said those words, “His Father’s work,” in a plain manner yet there seemed to be a shadow in them, a shadow of dread that engulfed my heart that was aching already.

            The future does not bring me peace so I will live in the present and trust the Lord who chose me to be Jesus’ mother, unworthy though I am. 

            He is back with us. He is safe. Soon we will be home in Nazareth. I told Joseph I want to celebrate when we return home, to have a feast thanking the Lord that we are all safe together again. Joseph was a bit surprised at the extravagance I suggested.  But I told him, my son is home safe and that is a reason for any mother to celebrate.

 Mary

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