Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

First of all, Happy Hanukah to our Jewish friends.  I don’t know if I have any Jewish readers, but just in case, I wish you a joyous and prayerful celebration.

I have four children so I have some experience with pregnancy, if only as a close and very interested observer.  With the birth of Christ just four days away, I can imagine what Mary and Joseph must have been going through.  With any birth there are expectations and worries.  After nearly nine months of pregnancy, the couple must have been very excited and apprehensive about the coming birth.

Added to the normal concerns of a couple so near to becoming parents, there was the additional concern about this particular child.  What would the future hold for Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus?  As if that weren’t enough, they had the additional burden of a trip to Bethlehem for the census.  It’s about 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  If he was in reasonably good condition, Joseph could probably lead a donkey about 20 miles per day.  Of course, anyone who’s ever travelled with a pregnant woman knows there were most likely frequent stops.  To be safe and conservative, we’re probably talking about a trip that lasted a week.

So, in our liturgical time line, Mary and Joseph are well on their way.  Since every citizen had to make the trip to their native city, it’s reasonable to assume that Mary and Joseph were probably traveling in a caravan.  Roman citizens rarely made long trips alone for fear of robbers or other problems along the way.  This would be especially true of a pregnant woman.

In your quiet time today, think about all that’s going through Mary and Joseph’s minds as they make this trip.  You and I know how the trip ended, but they didn’t.  Would Mary make it to Bethlehem or would she have to deliver her child along the side of the road?  What kind of birth would that be for a king?  Would God be angry with them for their poor planning?  There were no EMTs to help.  It would be just the two of them.  If they made it to Bethlehem would they be able to find a place to stay?  With so many people traveling it might be hard to find a place.  Again, we know how the story turns out, but they didn’t.

Do you think the couple had second thoughts?  Are they sorry for what they’ve gotten themselves into?  Think about it.

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