Blog: Advent Week 2

Posted on: December 11, 2017 4:00 pm
Tags: Advent,

Week two of Advent is the week of Love and of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. 

We know the Christmas story, but the statement that there was “no room in the inn” for a very pregnant young lady and an older man was just one of the problems Mary and Joseph faced. 

Consider what happened during the weeks before the Holy Family arrived at Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph were real human beings with all the normal gifts and faults found in the human condition. Let’s think about what may have taken place in their travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

What were their thoughts as they faced the decree that all must return to their traditional home to register for a census? The census was probably used to estimate or establish new taxes. 

Government agencies then, as now, set due dates for gathering such information and establish penalties for non-compliance. Joseph probably was attempting to meet those guidelines, and the schedule could not be delayed until after the birth of Mary’s child.

Nazareth is approximately 80 miles north of Bethlehem. The paths and roads between the two towns pass through many small mountains, hills and valleys, and it is not an easy journey. There were places that provided hospitality, but there also were areas of prejudice and a lack of hospitality. Roman authorities and soldiers looked down upon the common people and could not be counted upon for assistance. 

They also passed through country where robbers and outlaws took advantage of travelers. The cost of the journey included tolls paid to tax collectors for road construction. The time to complete the journey could be as little as four days or as much as eight to ten days.

The traditional Christmas story has Joseph walking the journey, leading a donkey with a pregnant young woman on its back. It would be interesting to hear Mary and Joseph’s conversation on their journey. It cannot be comfortable to ride on the back of a small donkey. Mary probably said many times in a day, “Let me get down off this thing. I need to walk a little.” Both probably said, “I’m tired. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. Are we there yet?” 

As each evening approached, they may have wondered, “Where will we find a place to eat? Where can we stay tonight?”  Did they discuss what to name the child? Did they talk about returning home to Nazareth or did they talk of an uncertain future?

This is an old and familiar story. There are still countries and systems of domination that destroy family life through fear, prejudice, and violence. Every day, families seek ways to survive in their homeland or become refugees searching for safety. Thousands are forced to travel and, like Mary and Joseph, take only what they can carry as they enter into strange and unfamiliar places. As we hear There’s no place like home for the holidays, we remember there are millions who cannot be home for Christmas. During this Advent season, we pray for those who are seeking the simple comforts, such as food, shelter, and safety from the weather on their own journey.

Dear Jesus, may the light of your love always shine in our hearts. As we prepare in this Advent week, we marvel at your great love for us. Let your love transform every aspect of our lives and touch everyone we encounter. Our hearts are open to you Jesus.

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