Some Thoughts on Heaven and the Big Bang

Early GalaxiesIn the Bible, God says, “Let there be light.” With His word God brings forth all there is. Father George Lemaitre, a Belgian priest, was the first to postulate the Big Bang Theory. If you close your eyes and envision the results of God’s words you can get a glimpse of creation.

Heaven we are told is the dwelling place of God. We are also told by Jesus that a place in Heaven is prepared for us by Him and that it will be our eternal home. Eternity is a concept that is hard to wrap your brain around.

As mortals we are used to the concept of time. There are twenty four hours in a day. We may work an eight hour day that also requires a forty five minute commute each way. We number our age in years and look forward to retirement around age sixty five.

If you study history, the United States is two hundred and forty years old as of 2016. Jesus was born over two thousand years ago and Moses lived approximately four thousand years ago. Our ability to grasp this span of time is tenuous. But scientists tell us that the Earth is over four and a half billion years old and the universe is about fourteen billion years old. If you were to live to one hundred years, you would need to do that one hundred and forty million times to equal the universe’s existence. And yet that is a blink of the eye when you speak about eternity.

But wait a moment; time itself is part of God’s creation. When He spoke everything into being God did not fill an already existing empty space with energy and matter, He actually brought forth the space in which everything now exists. The universe itself came into being out of nothing and began as an infinitesimally small point that then expanded and continues to expand to this day. It was this expansion, first noted by Edwin Hubble, which led Fr. Lemaitre to conjecture that the expansion had a beginning. Time also was created along with the matter and energy. For a simplification, consider that time is a measure along with distance and velocity that connects all there is in the universe.

Heaven is not located some place many parsecs away from Earth. The universe exists within God. As such, God exists outside of Time and Space. The Bible tells us a million years is like a day and a day is like a million years to God. Angels, the church tells us, are able to move at the speed of thought and we are to become like angels in the next life.

Think about a location other than where you are and you can be there now! If you can think of more than one location, you could theoretically be in two or more places at the same time because you move at the speed of thought. Distance is now meaningless and time is not in the equation for our journeying from place to place.

If our brain had the capacity, we could potentially be everywhere at once if we could simultaneously think of everyplace at one time. That is beyond our ability but it is a trait that we ascribe to God, that is, God is omnipresent.

So eternity in heaven is not measured in years, in fact it is not measured at all. It becomes a state of being for us. We exist at some point of creation with God and with a thought can move to some other point, always remaining with God and experiencing a different aspect of Him.

Our physical universe is huge. It occupies a space about fourteen billion light years across. The Hubble Telescope probes this vastness to reveal new galaxies, thousands of them, each containing millions, some maybe billions, of stars. Each star is a possible home for life. But the universe contains more than stars and planets. Scientists speculate on the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Their existence is postulated based on observations. Dark Matter may account for seventy percent of the mass of the universe and yet it is invisible to our eyes.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible …

But our dwelling in eternity is infinitely greater because we will dwell in God who Himself is infinite. We will have unlimited time to realize unending truths about Him and His creation. We will not need a telescope to observe because He will gladly reveal to us His sublime nature. We will be able to rejoice in each manifestation and then with a thought be amazed at the next. Our imagination is incapable of comprehending the possibilities.

Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him.

God gave Fr. Lemaitre a gift when He led him to the theory of the Big Bang. He also gave us a gift in that it offers a hint of the indescribable that will be our life with God.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God, but they pale in comparison to Him.

  • Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI and L. Infante (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
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Sun Dancing – A Book Review

On one day a year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, people around the world celebrate their Irish heritage, even if they have none. Parades, parties and the Wearin-of-the Green are ubiquitous. It may not be a stretch to state that those who celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day the hardest, know the least facts about the man and the land that adopted him as their Patron Saint. He drove the snakes from Ireland, likely myth. He brought Christianity to the Irish (partially true).
Patrick was appointed Bishop of Ireland and can be rightfully credited with spreading and securing Christianity throughout the land, but he was not the first Christian missionary to set foot on the Emerald Isle.
There are tales of Coptic monks from Egypt who traveled to Ireland and the legend of a Roman soldier named Althus, who was present at Christ’s Crucifixion. He too is credited with first bringing Christianity to the Irish shores. The actual facts are lost in time and blurred with myth. These are illuminated, like the manuscripts, in the book Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse.
Sun Dancing uses historical fiction to present the life of the men who lived and prayed on the skeilics, the precipitous rock islands littered about the coast of Ireland. The first part of the book uses historical narrative while the remainder presents short essays on the men and the culture that have impacted the entire world.
Men sought the isolation of the skeilics too better commune with God. On these pinpoints of land that some saw as the end of the world, Irish monasticism developed. Here they copied the ancient books and developed a way of living and praying. Despite the cruelties of self-mortification, nature and invasion, they survived and flourished. In years later they journeyed from the skeilics and spread throughout Europe the ancient knowledge that would otherwise have been lost during The Dark Ages.
The narrative spans the years 588 A.D. to 1222 A.D. and depicts the monks in their beehive shaped stone huts, in Irish called clochain. They survived by fishing and nurturing vegetables from the rocky ground. Their ascetic practices are graphically described and are not to be copied by the modern reader.
For the modern reveler who raises a Guinness; the Scourge used to subdue the carnal desires will seem alien. Instead of voices raised in raucous song; faces drop onto the cold stone floors in oratories for prayer. For the person who meticulously plans their day, the peregrinatio, the traveling where the wind, waves and God take you, will seem more folly than faith.
Here is Patrick, Brendan the Navigator and Brian Boru. Here is Olaf Trygvasson – the Viking who embraced Christ. Read about the Culdees, the Scoti and the Dancing Sun on Easter Morn.
More than Saint Patrick, the entire scope of Irish monasticism and life in the sixth through thirteenth centuries is presented. Here are disease and monsters, invaders and saints. Here is life lived explicitly on the edge of a cliff looking ever outward and upward to an horizon that the soul, not the eyes can see.
Embrace your Irish heritage and drink deep from Sun Dancing as from a fine pint.

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The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph – A Book Review

Among the classics of Catholic literature, The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph is a book to be consumed, savored and meditated on. Do not attempt large bites rather enjoy each morsel one paragraph, even one sentence at a time.
This book, written in 1888 by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A., is based on the earlier work of theologian Canon Antonio Vitali, Father Jose Moreno and others. They in turn cite the works and opinions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Augustine, Saint Bernadine, Saint Bridget, Ven. Maria d’Agreda and others.
I purchased the book over twenty years ago and for over a decade it languished on my bookshelf. Time and again I would begin to read it only to be rebuffed by its language and depth. It is a heavy read. Approximately ten years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a weekly holy hour. The silence was wonderful however my senses needed something to help me direct my mind towards God and not my pressing To Do list at home. I began to bring books with me to read and meditate on. The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph became my regular companion.
As a husband and father, I have been drawn to Saint Joseph believing he would be the best model I could choose for my life. I have other books on Saint Joseph, but many are full of prayers to him rather than providing insight into the man he was. Growing up without a good male role model I deeply wanted someone to copy so I could be the husband and father I hoped to become. In the silence of the holy hour, one paragraph at a time, through the teaching of the Church Fathers, Saint Joseph materialized before my eyes.
As the book explicitly states, to dwell on Saint Joseph one must out of necessity also meditate on Jesus and Mary. They are (and these are my words) a package deal. Jesus, of course, can stand alone (except there is that matter of the Trinity). Jesus embodies the Divine and Human Nature in Himself and Mary and Joseph are forever part of this Union.
Joseph, and the man he had to be to carry out the mission the Father gave him, is the main subject of the book, but to study Joseph is to be immersed in Jesus and Mary. The ancient Fathers deduced much as they meditated on the events of the Nativity of Jesus. The conclusions they arrived at they shared in homilies with their flocks. These conclusions are discovered by the reader of this marvelous book.
Nothing in the Bible is changed, but the events are fleshed out to give a fuller picture of God’s work in our salvation. The reader is first privy to details of Joseph and Mary as youngsters. They are then provided with insights into their lives together including the visit to Elizabeth’s house (yes the Church Fathers agreed Joseph accompanied Mary), their flight to Egypt and their time spent there. Other familiar moments are studied such that the reader feels he is with them at the Presentation or on their search for the lost child. What I found most beneficial was the illumination of Joseph’s role as the husband of Mary and father of Jesus. He is made real and tangible.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Embrace the man who first taught Jesus the Torah, the man that Jesus called Daddy.

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Excerpt from the The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

The Purification of Mary

Her time of separation was over. Mary traveled with me to the Temple to perform the ritual. She wanted to walk to the city barefoot as reparation to God. I told her firmly no. She obeyed my decision without complaint.  Mary was astride the animal carrying Jesus in her arms. When we arrived I took Jesus from her as she prepared herself and entered the Mikvah. After the ritual, she took Him back in her arms. Her expression was serene. On the way to Jerusalem, I saw tension in her face. She was concerned for Jesus’ safety.  After the rite, it seemed liked the tension was washed away. We knew the risk to us and the child of our being in the city. The Magi had pronounced him King of the Jews. Herod would be even more incensed than his usual murderous self if he heard those words.  I am aware that some of the Priests in the Temple are in league with him. They are his spies serving their avarice while performing their duties. May God shield us from their eyes. I have noticed that Mary gains strength of body and spirit when she fulfills God’s law. To her, it is not a burden but an act of love. She is my strength.

Joseph

 

The Presentation

            What words are these pronounced by him? Is he a Prophet? His name is Simeon.  I am certain he is not one of Herod’s spies. I saw him many times when I visited the Temple. He always seemed to me a good and pious man who was dedicated to the Lord.

            The Temple was empty when we brought Jesus for His dedication, just Simeon, us and one other, a woman named Anna.

            As we walked towards the Inner Temple he came to us. Mary was prepared to wait in prayer as she cannot enter the inner chamber but Simeon came to us with a haste of step that was beyond his years. He was as a man full of the joy of God. He took the child from us and sang praises to God. Mary and I were astonished at what he said.

            “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

            I was relieved that the Temple was empty. What Simeon proclaimed could be a death sentence to the child and us. Then he looked directly at Mary and proclaimed, “A sword shall pierce you …!” At those words, I felt as if a sword had pierced my heart. I became even more determined to protect her and the Child.

            Anna, the woman heard Simeon’s proclamation and came over to us. She too was overjoyed. Anna had been one of the instructors of the young women who, like Mary, lived at the Temple. She recognized Mary right away but her eyes were focused only on Jesus. She too proclaimed great words of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. In her zeal she left and I feared she would spread word of our presence in Jerusalem.

            We offered the required sacrifice and left as quickly and quietly as we could. We offered the sacrifice of the poor. The gifts of the Magi I kept concealed. I intend to distribute them quietly. For a man like me to offer a grand sacrifice would attract too much attention. I trust in God’s providence for our safety but I must also act cautiously, Mary and Jesus’s lives are in my care.

            We retreated to Bethlehem as we both felt safe at the place where God had led us.

Joseph

The Presentation

            My spirit was lifted as I left the bath. I pondered the Angel’s words, “Hail full of grace …!” My only desire is to do His will. I gladly follow the law that fills my heart.

            My spirit was lifted higher than ever as we walked towards the Inner Chamber. There I saw a familiar face, Simeon. I knew him from my days of living in the Temple. Joseph had Jesus in his arms.  

            “Salvation,” he proclaimed “salvation and a light for all, even the Gentiles.”

            My soul has felt that light ever since the Angel’s words. The light has burned intensely as God has continued to reveal His benefits.  They came to honor Him, the Shepherds then the Kings and, of course, the Angels’ singing their praises.  Even the animals seemed to worship Jesus.

             Simeon’s words, at first, lifted me higher, but then, I fell, I plummeted to the ground crushed and broken.

            “A sword!”

            I would gladly be pierced by a sword to save my child. What does he mean a contradiction?

            Anna was also there. She too I knew from my time at the Temple. She exulted at the sight of the Child and began to proclaim wondrous words. I wanted to caution her, but in her excitement she left to tell others of her joy.

            I saw the look on Joseph’s face, a look of deep concern but also determination.  We completed the ritual and left quietly in haste. Joseph was intent on our leaving the city. We traveled back to Bethlehem. We have been safe there for the time. It is the place God chose to bring His Son into the world. He will protect us.

 

Mary

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The Espousals of Joseph and Mary

*Fifteen Traditions about Joseph and Mary

This list draws on traditions that are mostly forgotten today. They were however well known during the time of the Early Church Fathers. They can be considered small “t” tradition for those of the Catholic faith.

1) Mary and Joseph are cousins. Joseph’s father Jacob and Mary’s mother Anne were brother and sister.
2) Joachim and Anne were unable to conceive a child. After twenty years of prayers, Anne conceived and bore Mary. Both had promised to dedicate their child to God if he answered their prayers.
3) At the age of three, Mary was sent by her parents to live in the Temple as a dedication to God.
4) Joseph was approximately ten to fifteen years older than Mary.
5) As a young man, Joseph secretly swore a vow of celibacy.
6) As a young girl living in the Temple, Mary secretly swore a vow of celibacy.
7) At this time in Israel, many were rushing into marriage in the hope that they would be chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah.
8) During her time in the Temple, Mary’s father, Joachim, died.
9) Zachary, the husband of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was among the Priests to call for Mary to be married after her father’s death.
10) Joseph, along with others, was summoned to the Temple, to be the chosen spouse of Mary. The choice was made by lot, each man delivering his staff to the High Priest. The next morning, Joseph’s staff had blossomed with a lily growing from it.

11) Mary was informed by God that Joseph had taken a vow of celibacy. If Mary accepted Joseph as her husband she could keep her vow also.
12) Mary was free to marry Joseph or she could refuse. God would not force her decision.
13) Joseph was informed in a dream that Mary had taken a vow of celibacy and he thus was able to maintain his vow and still marry Mary.
14) The time between their Betrothal and Espousal was two months.
15) Joseph became the guardian of Anne, Mary’s mother, upon his marriage to Mary.

*Reference: The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

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We Were Visited By Kings

I heard them coming before I saw them, the bells on their animals ringing clear in the evening air. At first, I stood at the opening of the cave, my staff in hand, in front of Mary until I heard their greeting.

“Hail and All Glory to the King of Jews!”

I was stunned, how did they know.Then one said, “We saw his star rising in the sky and remembered the prophecy. We have traveled far to do homage to the promised one.”

I recovered and offered them hospitality bidding them to dismount from their camels. They did so and their retinue quickly began to gather three chests from their beasts.

They entered the cave and upon seeing Mary and the Child they fell on their knees. Their servants came forward and placed the chests on the ground in front of each of them.

They brought forth gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Then all of their attendants also knelt down behind them and began to praise God for his faithfulness.

After a time, they rose and I approached them. I apologized to them as I had little to offer them in the way of comfort. Gaspar replied, “We have provisions for all. Please do us the kindness of allowing us to serve you who serves him who is the Promised One.” I hesitated as it was not proper but Balthasar and Melchior joined their voices with Gaspar’s and insisted that it was proper for them to serve us since the Child’s presence was a gift beyond measure.

And so I agreed, painful though it was. Their servants built a larger fire with wood they carried and prepared a feast for us. They asked permission to remain with us for a few days so they could honor the presence of the Child. They asked what his name was and I replied, “Jesus.” At his name they all knelt.
They stayed with us three days. As they were leaving they made known to me that they intended to return by a different route to avoid seeing Herod. Something about their change of mind caused me unease.

Joseph

We Were Visited by Kings

Joseph heard the bells before I did. He quickly grasped his staff and moved to the front of the cave shielding Jesus and me from the visitors. I heard their greeting, “Hail and All Glory to the King of the Jews.”

Joseph asked them how they knew. He hesitantly stepped aside as they dismounted. They presented precious gifts to Jesus.

There were three of them richly dressed each with a cohort of servants. Despite the richness of their clothing, I sensed a profound humility in each of them. Their hearts were joy-filled at being in the presence of Jesus. They all knelt before Jesus who I held in my arms. They knelt in silent prayer and then sang a hymn of praise to God.

Afterward they begged Joseph to allow them to honor us with a feast. He reluctantly agreed more so for my sake and the child’s. They also asked permission to stay. They had traveled far to see the Child of Promise as they called him and wished to remain longer than a few hours. To this Joseph also agreed.

I watched and listened attentively to how the three men spoke to their servants. They were kind and gentle in their commands and their servants were obviously well cared for by these Kings. The servants for their part rejoiced at serving their Masters. All rejoiced at seeing Jesus.

I had thought our secret was safe, that only Joseph and I knew about the true nature of the Child. They said they saw His star rising as prophesied. My heart froze at those words. Who else knows? The fact that they wish to remain with us I believe is a good sign. They mean no harm to the child. I can feel that in my heart.

Mary

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Excerpt from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary – The Circumcision

The Circumcision

            I made a quick small cut done by the sharpest of blades.  I took special care to hone the knife testing its edge to ensure the cleanest of cuts. He cried aloud despite my efforts.  The blood dripped onto Mary’s hands, she held him tight and secure. Her face was set like stone. I know she was in deep prayer but also, she was locked onto her son and His distress.

            The knife cut cleanly, it cut the flesh of the child and also my heart and my soul.  Oh, painful obedience.

            It was over in seconds. Mary tended the wound and comforted Jesus. I pronounced His name, Jesus, as I circumcised Him, the name given to me by the Angel.

            He stopped crying, clinging tightly to Mary. He stayed awake long into the night making soft sounds. I, however, continued to hear his screams of pain in my mind. I am sorry my son it is the law and we must obey God. I had prayed for an Angel to stay my hand like was done for Abraham, but none appeared.  My hands are shaking now long after the ordeal is over. Mary has tried to comfort me; she is still shaken but does not show it outwardly.

Joseph

 The Circumcision

            I held my sweet child as firmly as I could fearful of hurting him and fearful he would be hurt worse if I let go. Joseph took special care honing the blade. No razor was ever so sharpened. He nodded to me and I held Jesus on my legs. He quickly made the cut, his expert hands finishing the cut in two quick passes.

            The screams pierced my heart like a spear. My body wanted to quake. I prayed to God for strength not to fail my child. If I should flinch and cause Joseph to hurt the child more I would regret that forever, hurting my son and my husband.

            Joseph pronounced his name, Jesus. It was over. I embraced our son. He gripped me fiercely his body shaking; I could feel his heart beating against my chest. Joseph’s face grew pale and his hands began to shake, my dear husband obedient to God despite the cost. I know Joseph felt the knife cut into his heart.

            It is quiet and the stars are beginning to shine brightly. My hands are stained with drops of my son’s blood. My son’s precious blood shed out of obedience.

Mary

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Excerpt from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

 

The Purification of Mary

            Her time of separation was over. Mary traveled with me to the Temple to perform the ritual. She wanted to walk to the city barefoot as reparation to God. I told her firmly no. She obeyed my decision without complaint.  Mary was astride the animal carrying Jesus in her arms. When we arrived I took Jesus from her as she prepared herself and entered the Mikvah. After the ritual, she took him back in her arms. Her expression was serene. On the way to Jerusalem, I saw tension in her face. She was concerned for Jesus’ safety.  After the rite, it seemed liked the tension was washed away. We knew the risk to us and the child of our being in the city. The Magi had pronounced him King of the Jews. Herod would be even more incensed than his usual murderous self if he heard those words.  I am aware that some of the Priests in the Temple are in league with him. They are his spies serving their avarice while performing their duties. May God shield us from their eyes. I have noticed that Mary gains strength of body and spirit when she fulfills God’s law. To her, it is not a burden but an act of love. She is my strength.

Joseph

——————————————————————————————————————–

The Presentation

            What words are these pronounced by him? Is he a Prophet? His name is Simeon.  I am certain he is not one of Herod’s spies. I saw him many times during the years I visited the Temple with my father.

            The Temple was empty when we brought Jesus for his dedication, just Simeon, us and one other, a woman named Anna.

            As we walked towards the Inner Temple he came to us. Mary was prepared to wait in prayer as she cannot enter the inner chamber but Simeon came to us with haste in his step that defied his years. He was as a man full of the joy of God. He took the child from us and sang praises to God. Mary and I were astonished at what he said.

            “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

            I was relieved that the Temple was empty. What Simeon proclaimed could be a death sentence to the child and us. Then he looked directly at Mary and proclaimed, “A sword shall pierce you …!” At those words, I felt as if a sword had pierced my heart. I became even more determined to protect Mary and our Child.

            Anna, the woman, heard Simeon’s proclamation and came over to us. She too was overjoyed. Anna had been one of the instructors of the young women who, like Mary, lived at the Temple. She recognized Mary right away but her eyes were focused only on Jesus. She too proclaimed great words of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. In her zeal she left and I feared she would spread word of our presence in Jerusalem.

            We offered the required sacrifice and left as quickly and quietly as we could. We offered the sacrifice of the poor. The gifts of the Magi I kept concealed. I intend to distribute them quietly. For a man like me to offer a grand sacrifice would attract too much attention. I trust in God’s providence for our safety but I must also act cautiously, Mary and Jesus’s lives are in my care.

            We retreated to Bethlehem as we both felt safe at the place where God had led us.

Joseph

——————————————————————————————————————

 The Presentation

            My spirit was lifted as I left the bath. I pondered the Angel’s words, “Hail full of grace …!” My only desire is to do His will. I gladly follow the law that fills my heart.

            My spirit was lifted higher than ever as we walked towards the Inner Chamber. There I saw a familiar face, Simeon. I knew him from my days of living in the Temple. He approached and bowed then took the child in his arms.  

            “Salvation,” he proclaimed “salvation and a light for all, even the Gentiles.”

            My soul has felt that light ever since the Angel’s words. The light has burned intensely as God has continued to reveal His benefits.  They came to honor Him, the Shepherds then the Kings and of course the Angels’ singing their praises.  Even the animals seemed to worship Jesus.

             Simeon’s words at first lifted me higher but then, I fell, I plummeted to the ground crushed and broken.

            “A sword!”

            I would gladly be pierced by a sword to save my child. What does he mean a contradiction?

            Anna was also there. She too I knew from my time at the Temple. She exulted at the sight of the Child and began to proclaim wondrous words. I wanted to caution her but in her excitement she left to tell others of her joy.

            I saw the look on Joseph’s face, a look of deep concern but also determination.  We completed the ritual and left quietly in haste. Joseph was intent on our leaving the city. We traveled back to Bethlehem. We have been safe here for the time. It is the place God chose to bring His Son into the world. He will protect us.

 Mary

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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

———————————————————————————————————-

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

———————————————————————————————————-

   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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Excerpts from The Diaries of Joseph and Mary – He is Born

Mary has fallen asleep; the child is in her arms nursing contentedly. All is calm now and the stars are shining brighter than I have ever seen them before. I don’t know how Mary can sleep, my mind is racing my very soul is pulsing, and all the fear and worry are gone.

There were no rooms available and the innkeepers were impatient, harsh even. They see in the census a gold mine for themselves. One offered us to use a stable and charged a dear price for it. I was heartbroken that I could do no more for Mary and the child. Mary’s time came and she delivered the child and what I beheld I will never forget.

The cave was alight with shining beings and the night was filled with their music such as I had never heard before. Angels from God, they surrounded the Child and Mary and I bathed in the glow of their radiance and all I could feel was profound love and joy. A fragrance of sweet flowers filled the cave where the animals had been. Mary seemed to be in ecstasy, her face reflecting the light emanating from the celestial guardians. After a time the Angels seemed to withdraw just a bit, they hovered above and behind her but the front of the cave they left open. Shepherds from the fields came, very hesitantly, the fear on their faces was evident but one of the Angels bade them to come closer and fear not. Indeed, he proclaimed to the Shepherds, Rejoice!

They brought gifts such as they had, food and wine for Mary and me, blankets for the child and wood for a fire. I took the wood and built a fire outside the stable to provide warmth, light and protection from the night predators. I have not slept for three days, but I am just beginning to feel tired. Indeed, I have never felt so alive in my life. My eyes are starting to grow heavy as I write this; I have never known such peace. Who is this child that Angels and Shepherds adore? Who am I to be trusted with His care?

Joseph

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           Joseph found us shelter, a cave used for the keeping of animals. I could see the concern in his face. The child was coming and I did not care if it was a cave or a palace. Joseph helped me to lie down on some blankets over a mound of straw.  He started a fire with the wood we had and then left to gather more. I prayed to God for help in my need.

            In my prayer I was lifted up, my body relaxed. I knew Joseph had returned I could feel his hand holding mine. “The child is coming,” I told him.

            I could hear Joseph answer, but his reply was a prayer to the greatness of God. The cave glowed with light. I could see heavenly beings all around me. I could smell a sweet fragrance fill the air.

            I was moved to kneel in prayer, deeper prayer than I had ever experienced. The child came forth and two angels received Him from me. One was the Angel Gabriel that brought me God’s message; the other was dressed in armor like a warrior.

            The child’s face radiated light like that of the Angels around us only his light was more solid, more real. The Angels placed the child in my arms and stepped back a few paces and dropped to the ground face down in adoration of the child.

            After a while, the Angels moved out from the cave. I knew they were still present as I could hear their singing and see their light. Shepherds from the fields nearby came and paid homage to my Son. Their faces reflected the glow of light from the Angels and the Child. Tears of Joy streamed down their faces as they praised God’s faithfulness to His promise.

            Then they left and the Angels stationed themselves outside the cave. As I write this I recall how I never felt safer, more loved and more fully alive than at that moment when my son Jesus was born.   

 Mary 

 

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