There is much excitement to share as Advent begins and we are filled with the anticipation of Christmas.
All of us at Joseph’s House from house staff to office and development staff are going full throttle as we prepare for everything from Baby Bottle Drives to end of the year newsletters, to decorating, baking, preparing lists of wants and necessities for our moms and babies, making final preparations for gatherings in our home and watching with joy as the little ones take in the view of the nearly 12-foot tree gracing our dining room. In the photo above you can see some of our volunteers and staff as well as some of our moms and kids are thrilled to be decorating in preparation for Christmas. All of this while being sure to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for all those who touch our mission so that we might continues to change lives.
Advent begins today and is preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ into our hearts and into our world. It is the beginning of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar and a journey with the Holy Family. Who better to travel with as we begin the year with preparation for the joyous occasion of the Birth of Jesus Christ. The conundrum always arrives when we become sidetracked by our preparation for the secular aspects of Christmas and forget the Advent journey is about preparation for Jesus, reparation and sacrifice for our sins and thanks to God for all He has given to us
I fall prey to this conundrum every year. My remedy this year is to sacrifice a bit each day in thanks for Joseph and Mary by contemplating their trials and discomforts they endured as they made the ninety-mile journey from their home to Bethlehem.
“It was a fairly grueling trip. In antiquity, the most we find people traveling is 20 miles a day. And this trip was very much uphill and downhill. It was not simple."
Joseph and Mary likely would have traveled only 10 miles a day because of Mary's impending delivery.
And the trip through the Judean desert would have taken place during the winter, when it's in the thirties during the day [and] rains like heck, it's nasty, miserable. And at night it would be freezing.
And the unpaved, hilly trails and harsh weather were not the only hazards Joseph and Mary would have faced on their journey south.
One of the most terrifying dangers in ancient Palestine was the heavily forested valley of the Jordan River. Lions and bears lived in the woods, and travelers had to fend off wild boars. Archaeologists have unearthed documents warning travelers of the forest's dangers.
And "bandits, pirates of the desert and robbers" were also common hazards along the major trade routes like the one Joseph and Mary would have traveled.
Mary and Joseph had to bring their own provisions. "In wine-skins, they carried water, and they carried a lot of bread. … Breakfast would be dried bread, lunch would be oil with bread, and herbs with oil and bread in the evening."
James F. Strange, a New Testament and biblical archaeological professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
And we all know what happened when they arrived in Bethlehem.
So for Advent this year as I think of Joseph and Mary I will also think about the challenges experienced in the ninth month of carrying my children to birth and ponder what challenges and discomforts Our Lady may have encountered. I will appreciate more deeply the safety and comfort of my home as I think about the perilous journey of Mary and Joseph sleeping under the stars, never knowing where they would reside when arriving in Bethlehem. I will turn the heat down in my cushy vehicle as I think about Mary riding a donkey side-saddle over hills and valleys cold, exhausted, hungry, yet never complaining. I will imagine the apprehension of St. Joseph as he stepped out in faith knowing he must have wondered about how he would provide for Mary and the upcoming birth of Jesus, as all men worry about caring and providing for their families, and will thank him for his courage in saying yes to the Angel and becoming the foster father to Christ. I will fast each day from some food I enjoy as they fasted on bread and water out of necessity. I will make reparation for my sins and the sins of others through more prayer and more daily masses as this unknown, humble couple made reparation for all of us by giving their entire lives to God the Father, for Jesus the Son, and for all of us. I will remember Joseph and Mary and meditate upon the perils of their travels so you and I might be able to travel the glorious journey to Heaven. I will give thanks and praise to God each and every day for the gift of St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Mary, for their fiats, for their wisdom, strength, faith and perseverance. Please pray with me my friends, that all this pondering, contemplating and meditating will bear many fruits for Joseph’s House and for our world and I will pray for Advent and Christmas blessings for you and yours!
God Bless you!
Love & Prayers,