The pain of that first Christmas gives us solace in our struggles
December 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A discussion with friends Wednesday night revolved around the events of the first Christmas with the few clues we are given in the Bible to discern what actually took place. In very few verses there is a whole world of experiences and events which unfold with their joys, sacrifices and sufferings. Sufferings, which when contemplated can bring great consolation in our times of distress.
I’ve always loved the brief passages in the Gospel of St. Matthew that precede the birth of Christ. They focus on St. Joseph and are likely the first great agony experienced by the Holy Family.
When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to put her away privately. But while he was thinking about it, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife…
In that brief passage I see wounds of doubt, the pain of betrayal, confusion of unimaginable proportions, heartbrokenness, rejection, anguish, weeping and torture of mind, heart and soul. Poor, poor Joseph! Why was he allowed to suffer such torment before being told the simple answer that gave healing? Poor, poor Mary! Why was she somehow not able to tell Joseph of her Divine predicament? Why was she to suffer his noble and well-meaning but wrong-headed rejection?
The only answer is that Christ allows us all to ‘take up our crosses and follow Him’. Not even his own earthly parents were spared the cross.
But their pain and suffering is for us today, especially for those who find Christmas a difficult time, a solace. Joseph and Mary suffered too at Christmas. They suffered immensely and God not only permitted it, but planned it and let it happen before intervening.
There are many times when we’re confused and feel that things are impossible, all of us suffer rejection, and anguish and often feel it is unjust. But thinking of Joseph and Mary and their sufferings in this passage -- ever so briefly mentioned in the Scriptures -- gives us the reassurance that God intends this little cross for us, and will bring Good of it. For “all things work for good for those who love Him.”
What an awesome thing it is to read the Bible. Here is a perfect example of how even the briefest of passages can be long contemplated for they contain the Word of God – Truth Himself – in Whom we find a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.”
Spend some time with the Lord this Christmas. Search out His Word in the Scriptures. Read them slowly and immerse yourself in them.
May God grant you a happy and holy celebration of the Birth of the Saviour.