A Little Christmas Story

(I wrote this story during Advent of 1996. I have gotten in the habit of reprinting it each year at this time. I hope you enjoy it – and Merry Christmas!-CJ)

Joseph’s Way

Posted on November 2, 2015, by charliej373

(Dream of Joseph - Rembrandt)

By Charlie Johnston


The true son of true God was

adopted by a man, that all men

might truly be adopted by God.

Taking on our humanity He gave us a

share in his divinity. And so, we are

become a new race – sons and

daughters of the living God.

I: In His Father’s Tent

“Why must the girls marry the old men? Most like the young men better.”

Jacob’s right hand twitched; the chisel in it jumped and nicked the fleshy pad in his left. His son’s voice startled him. Save for the scraping of the wood, the tent had been silent all morning. He looked up from his bench and glared at his son. No use. Joseph was planing boards at the far end of the tent, his back to the father. Jacob’s beard lifted in wry amusement. His enigmatic son says something interesting – and does it with his back turned. How appropriate.

“Are you thinking you’d like to be married, then?” the father asked, his lips pursing to suppress his mirth.

Joseph kept planing.

“No, Father,” he said. “I just thought…well, we all laugh and play together as children, then the girls are gone. They enter the house of an elder and we don’t speak any more. It must be…fearful. And maybe lonely for them.”

Jacob was thunderstruck. How to respond to this outpouring?

“You’ve an eye for beauty, Joseph. Perhaps one of your childhood friends will bear a daughter who will be ripe when it is your time.”

Jacob knew immediately it was a silly, stupid thing to say, but he could think of nothing else.

Joseph was silent. There were many boards yet to plane today. Jacob watched his son’s back for a moment, then took up his chisel and turned back to his work. It was not until late in the day that the raspy rhythm of chisel and plane was broken again.

“I saw a woman stoned,” Joseph said.

Jacob looked up, amazed again, but wary now. “An adulteress?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“That is our law, handed down from Moses.”

“It was horrible,” Joseph said, his back still to his father. “She was all purple and bleeding, pleading for mercy. But there was no mercy there. Can this be what God intends?”

He turned to his father, eyes full, a hint of tremor on his lips. His hands kept to the wood.

Jacob’s left hand lay flat on the workbench, his right clenched a fist around the chisel. His eyes were steady and fixed on his son.

“Who was she taken with?” he asked.

“A friend of her childhood. She was barely 14.”Stoning-Bible

Understanding dawned. The father closed his eyes and lowered his head. When he lifted it again his gaze was penetrating and clear.

“Did the three of you once laugh and play together?” he asked his son.

Joseph turned back to his work. He had overplaned this board. It was ruined. Jacob saw it, too.

“Gather the wood scraps together now and take them to your grandfather,” Jacob said. “It will be cold tonight.”

“But Father, I have ruined this board. I must…”

“You must take the wood scraps to your grandfather.” Jacob’s voice was low, even gentle, but it compelled obedience. “The sun will soon set. There will be time enough tomorrow to correct your errors.”

The father turned back to his work as the son gathered together the scraps. Jacob worked late that night, pausing occasionally to examine with wonder the single misshapen board his son’s meticulous hands had ever formed.

II: The Coming of the Ark

Until his world crashed, Joseph had been preoccupied with a fantastic dream. Six times it had come, every third night these last few weeks.

It always began in a tent; a tent like his father’s, but not his father’s. Joseph was alone, doing detail work with the chisel – the sort his father always did. It was magnificent work; impossibly rich ebony, finely filigreed and ornate, more beautiful and delicate than any he had ever seen. He was lost in the work, intent on each detail when the tent began to fill with a brilliant, gently pulsing light. Turning around, he looked into the eyes of a lean, sinewy man of about 30 (his own age) who, nonetheless, bore the flowing, white beard of a patriarch. He somehow knew this to be Moses. Behind Moses was a box; the sort in which a queen might keep her most precious jewel. It was simple, yet beautiful: olive wood rubbed and oiled, inlaid with a pale blue ivory. Joseph went to it and knelt in wonder, astonished at this unlikely source of bright, throbbing light that yet did not blind. Unable to take his eyes from it, he asked, “Is this the Ark?”

“Guard it well,” Moses replied. Then Joseph would awaken. The dream should have come again last night. It might have, had Joseph slept at all. Mary came instead. It was late afternoon and Joseph was surprised to see her. It was not yet time for her to come into his house so he seldom saw her alone. She delivered the blow with a gentle, almost playful, smile.

“I am with child,” she said.

Joseph was sure he had not heard her correctly but was so confused he could say nothing at all.

“I am with child,” she repeated.

His mind raced. How can this be? Why is she smiling? Is she taunting me? No, she never taunts. He finally asked, “Who is the father?”

“Pray and you will know,” she replied, and then was gone. Joseph had never felt so alone, so forsaken, so completely and utterly crushed. And yet…that smile. Mary was not upset, certainly not frightened. In truth, she seemed joyful. How could she be joyful about such devastating news?

Joseph had long ago dismissed the idea of marriage. After witnessing a stoning he had dedicated himself, body and soul, to God, in reparation for all those without mercy and as an offering for all those in need of it. He would never have thought to court Mary. She was the most beautiful, graceful and refined woman in all of Galilee. Except for yesterday, she had never failed to bring a measure of joy to everyone she encountered, whenever she encountered them. There was an air of mystery about her; wisdom and peace flowed from some secret place in her that Joseph doubted anyone had ever penetrated. Yet she could be bold. It was Mary who told Joseph she wanted him to be her husband. After his initial shocked wonder, he delicately explained to her that he had entirely dedicated himself to God.

“So have I,” Mary replied almost gaily – and that was that. They were betrothed.

Joseph wondered what God could possibly intend for him with this humiliation. Though he had felt called from his youth to be a husband and father, he had renounced it for the sake of mercy, putting it entirely out of his mind. When Mary came to him, he thought surely God had sent her. How likely was it that any woman, much less this magnificent woman, should both love him and share his mission? And now this. What should he do?

A vision of Mary, purple and bleeding, flashed through his mind, filling him with horror and revulsion. dream-of-st-josephHe would not accuse her. He would never accuse anyone. But he could not take her into his home. A quiet bill of divorce – that was surely the answer. He would appear to be the scoundrel and she might have difficulty finding a husband, but she would not be put to shame.

Preparing to make his evening prayers, Joseph remembered Mary’s smile; her confidence and joy. So instead of asking why, he cried out, “O God, my God, what do You intend for me in this horrible situation?’

Nearby, the Angel of the Lord waited for sleep to overtake Joseph. The Angel had a message of supreme importance; news that what Joseph thought was an ending was, in fact, a beginning.

III: God With Us

Although he was glad to have found it when and where he did, Joseph would long be troubled by the memory of the wood.

It irritated him to have to travel when Mary’s time was so near. He found no work along the way; his tools were just an extra burden for the donkey. When Mary’s time did come, he was prepared. He had expected it to happen on the road. He had not expected to be unable to find a place for them to stay. Joseph was beginning to think the child would be born in a field when they came upon an old cattle shed. Joseph could not see how it kept the cattle in; it certainly would not keep the elements out. He had thought to use a manger as a makeshift cradle for the child, but there was none. Piles of hay were scattered indiscriminately about the floor. His heart sank. For a moment Joseph was overwhelmed by his own inadequacy – but only for a moment. Mary’s need was urgent.

Joseph looked around the shed and spied a pair of warped boards lying at the rear. He was filled with both gratitude and dismay as he examined them. The grain was fine; there were no knots. The wood was flawless. Only the workmanship was shoddy. The tools would prove useful, after all. Joseph had never worked at such a reckless pace. It took him scarcely half an hour to fashion a serviceable cradle. At that, he finished just in time.

Mary was gasping; the child would wait no longer. Joseph turned the full force of his attention on his wife. He took control with confident ease. The delivery was uncomplicated (thank God for small favors!). He cleaned the child and put him in Mary’s arms, then gathered together some hay and sticks to cover the holes in the roof. Finally, he was finished.

“You’re a good husband and father,” Mary murmured, handing him the boy.

Joseph’s brows lifted. “How so?” he asked.

“Everyone sees the blessing in honor and prosperity. Few can accept the blessing of humiliation and hardship.”

Joseph nodded. “The lower the net is cast, the more it gathers. nativity_shepherds_by_murilloHeaven is too high for us. I was thinking it must have pleased God to cast his net low tonight.”

“Why, Joseph, that’s profound.”

“Are you so surprised?” he asked, a wry smile curling his lips.

“The things you do are always profound, but you seldom speak of why you do them.”

They rested in quiet contemplation, cuddling their child and nuzzling together. The cattle lowed gently beside them.

After a while, Mary said, “That’s a lovely cradle you made.”

Joseph regarded it thoughtfully. “It will make a fine manger when we leave. The wood for it should not have been lying there, though.”

“Oh, Joseph, not everyone is as orderly as you.”

“That’s not it,” he said.

Mary looked at him quizzically.

“Were it not for the cattle, I would have thought this place abandoned,” he explained. “But that’s not it. It’s the Romans. They love to collect such boards for use in their instruments of torture and execution…”

Joseph sat up straight, suddenly alert. Someone was outside the shed. Were they to be turned away from even this place? A boy stepped into view – a shepherd, then two of his companions. Joseph was puzzled.

“Please, sir,” the first boy spoke for them all. “An angel told us the Messiah is born tonight…and that we could see him here.”

Joseph and Mary glanced at each other in surprise, then Joseph smiled and bade the shepherds enter. They knelt before Jesus, who slept contentedly in his mother’s arms.

“A most approachable king, this son of mine,” Joseph thought, surveying the scene. A bit of Scripture bubbled into his head: God’s ways are not man’s ways. This Messiah would surely startle and challenge Israel’s expectations of what God’s ways are.

IV: After the Temple

“I saw a woman stoned yesterday.”

Jesus’ voice did not startle Joseph. His son had been working with furious intensity all morning – always prelude to an outburst. The father paused to look in his son’s direction. The muscles in Jesus’ back rippled with rhythmic resolve and the shavings flew like sparks. At this rate he would finish two or three days work before the sun had set. Every board would be perfect, too. It was a continuing marvel to Joseph that his son should be both so passionate and so precise. The father resumed his carving, but kept his eyes on the son. Jesus would elaborate soon enough. It was always best to wait for him.

“I could have stopped it,” Jesus said.

“Why didn’t you?” Joseph’s voice was measured and calm.jesus-teen-joseph-carpenter-shop

“It is not my time,” Jesus replied. “Now is a time for obedience and restraint. I can master nothing until I have mastered these.”

“Even at the cost of a woman’s life?”

Jesus stiffened, his back straight now. The plane trembled in his hand, troubling the wood no longer.

“She lives,” he said softly. “The gates of heaven will open for her. But this is not what my father intends.”

“What, then,” Joseph pressed. “…that sin should continue?”

Jesus whirled around, eyes flashing. His voice was tight with suppressed fury.

“No,” he said. “That mercy should abound. All have received it from above. It will go hard for those who are miserly in giving what they, themselves, have received in abundance.”

Jesus’ anger suddenly gave way to stunned wonder. Joseph’s eyes were radiant with joy, but his lips were pressed tightly together and his cheeks were wet with tears. Wonder became alarm when Jesus saw the deep gouge in the mantle his father had been working on. Jesus had never seen him like this. He went to his father.

“I can fix that for you.”

Joseph shook himself, as if waking from a dream, and gazed at the mantle. Tilting his head in curiosity, he looked back at his son.

“How so?” he asked.

“I can make it take any shape I want.”

Joseph’s eyes narrowed. “Have you done this with your work?”

Jesus’ face flushed. He lowered his head. When he spoke, it was scarcely a whisper. “No, Father…just some sticks in the field.”

Joseph pushed up from the bench. He began to pace, stroking his beard in thought. “I see,” he said. “Why work at all then? Why not just take a stick and grow it into a house?”

The pacing stopped. Joseph looked directly at his son. Jesus regarded his father with dismay and confusion. He tried to speak, but all he could muster was a dry, choked rustle.

“I’ll tell you why,” the father resumed. “Because it is wrong. You are a man, Jesus. You did not become such to cover over shoddy work. That is a mark of lowness in a man. If you are to be lifted above that, you must always work the wood properly. No shortcuts – ever.”

Jesus’ eyes met his father’s stern, loving gaze. For a moment the son remembered having chosen Joseph from all eternity. He pushed the memory away; his father would not be pleased. Now his own eyes filled with tears. Joseph was a worthy man.

“Yes, Father,” he assented.

Joseph clasped the boy’s shoulder in the semi-embrace favored by reticent men. Father and son worked together in silence that afternoon, savoring occasionally the comfortable communion between them.

V: His Father’s Way

The Baptist was shaken to see Jesus standing before him, waist deep in the chill water of the Jordan River.

“I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me,” John said.

baptism-of-JesusMemories of Joseph flooded Jesus’ mind. Smiling gently, he told John, “Allow it now. It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.”

The Baptist plunged him into the water. Rising, Jesus shook his hair and beard, then departed for the desert.

His father was well pleased.

*******

 

In my Father’s house are many mansions…

I go to prepare a place for you – John 14:2

73 thoughts on “A Little Christmas Story

    1. When you get a little distance from the writing of something, two or three years, you can see it better from a reader’s eye rather than an author’s. When I wrote it, I worried that the almost Hemingway-esque economy of phrasing was too abrupt. But I managed to embed a ton of little ornaments in that scant phrasing. As a reader, some 22 years detached from the writing of it, I enjoy it more each time I read it, too. It touches me and brings tears to my eyes. My Easter story on Pilate does the same to me. I am glad, Beckita. These are, for me, very deep meditations where I seek to lose myself in contemplation of the reality of these very real people the Bible speaks of. Funny, when I say, “Live it!”, I am talking both about doing and not just saying, but I also am talking about these sorts of deep meditations – a sort of extended communion with the people from Scripture.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. So true, Charlie… both distance from writing wherein the reading presents new freshness and your oft repeated exhortation to contemplate. I see a movement of the Holy Spirit rising from many a Catholic apostolate in these days. Encouragement, lessons, and strategies for meditation and contemplation are pouring forth. Cardinal Sarah’s book title says it all: The POWER of Silence. (emphasis mine)

        Liked by 4 people

  1. Thank you for presenting the little story again Charlie. There is such a lot happening today and I’m a bit stunned so just a couple of ‘light’ comments.

    First, your story hasn’t changed but, oh my! how we have changed since the last time you posted it.

    Secondly, I see so much of you in St Joseph!

    Ok, a couple more thoughts. In the account from Colleen in the previous post, she made this observation:
    “Looking back now, I can see so clearly how God used my own mess to be a message. The message is simple yet so easy to completely overlook and miss out on: be open, even the slightest bit, to God’s love”. Isn’t Saint Joseph just the best example of this for any man and father!

    And on that, there is an approved private revelation that says Saint Joseph would become prominent in these times. How very much do we beg his intercession as the Patron of the Universal Church as we watch our poor Church be dragged to her knees, black and blue, by the “stoning”.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Karen, At the risk of showing my ignorance, would you please be more specific on which private revelation, (about St.Joseph), you’re referring to? Thanks in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was in the back of my mind Marie and I had to look it up! St Joseph is almost hidden by the other members of his Holy Family but it seems the Sacrad Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are pulling back the veil for these times. We know of his appearances at Knock and Fatima but I think it is the revelation to Sister Mildred in the apparitions of Our Lady of America that I was referring to. Here is an article with more explanation – there is a video by Dr Mark Miravalle at the end which is worthwhile watching: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/joseph-pronechen/st.-joseph-appeared-in-the-united-states.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. All of the above Register article is excellent, especially this part:
          Sister Mary Mildred wrote not only the messages in her diary but also gave short commentaries. She described how St. Joseph first visited in October 1956 about one week after Our Lady first appeared. On this “preview” she didn’t see him but only heard him tell her:

          “It is true, my daughter, that immediately after my conception I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men.

          “My pure heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God. Immediately, at the moment when my soul was cleansed from original sin, grace was infused into it in such abundance that, excluding my holy spouse, I surpassed the holiness of the highest angel in the angelic choir.

          “My heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield, as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men.

          “The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them.

          “Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross, so I became, in union with my holy spouse, co-redemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I co-operated, as no other, in the salvation of the world.”

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks, Charlie, it humanizes the Holy Family for me.
    And a little holiday TNRS can come in different forms: A mysterious red light switch allows unsuspecting New Yorkers to turn on over 50,000 Christmas lights while bringing delight to the young and the young-at-heart. (The music adds magic.)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The Ol’ CrewDog Watchman is finding no Good News Out-There … so I’ve decided not to ruin The Season with the other ****….. as I expected …. the Bad News is piling-up ;-( …. but!! … Perhaps!? … like the tough journey that Joseph and Mary had to take to Bethlehem, We Hope, Pray and BELIEVE that there will be a Happy Ending 😉

    HeartLight Daily Verse – 20 December

    Luke 2:1
    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

    Thoughts on today’s verse:
    Isn’t it amazing how many inconveniences in our lives the Lord uses to accomplish his will in us? Can you think of a worse time to have to go on a cross-country trip with their modes of travel than Joseph and Mary faced? Yet God turned it into the moment in which the angels found their tune and Satan met his match.

    Prayer: Father, I thank you that behind history, and especially behind the part of history where I live, your hand is always working for my redemption and your glory. Give me faith to ride out the difficult times, knowing that you will use those difficulties to be the incubator of your next great work in me. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
    Visit heartlight.org for more

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 12 people

  4. Thanks for posting that again Charlie. I must say I consider you a friend after meeting you in Belleville Several years ago and following your postings these few years. May God bless you and yours this holiday season.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Gosh, Little One. Sometimes we sow the seed; sometimes we water; and other times we reap. Just speak truth in charity and live it in cheerfulness, leaving the results to God and taking a break from conversations which are going nowhere. God bless you.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. LittleOne,
      Prayer and silence!
      I’ve noticed that when I repeatedly try to enlighten relatives who vehemently believe the fake news, the discussions only serve as another opportunity for them to “rehearse” or “practice stating” their disordered viewpoint. The unfortunate result is that they become even *more* deeply entrenched in the lies. 😦 With these dear ones, I have stopped bringing up these topics for discussion, and if they bring it up, I gently redirect the conversation. I think sometimes the best thing we can do for others is to give them no forum for reciting the false narrative. The more they hear it, the more deeply they believe it…even if(or perhaps especially when?) they are hearing it from their own mouths. I pray that in my silence, they will be able to hear from the Holy Spirit. I

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good/hearting news from MILINET this morn 😉

    MILINET: Articles for Christians – 22 December
    =======================
    Hundreds of Hong Kong church-goers set to wear black in show of support for Christians under crackdown in mainland China
    https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2179166/hundreds-hong-kong-church-goers-set-wear-black-show-support

    Bethlehem church shows off 1,600-year-old mosaics ahead of Christmas
    https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/12/21/Bethlehem-church-shows-off-1600-year-old-mosaics-ahead-of-Christmas/4731545408729/#ixzz5aOyWDJ1t

    Landmines Cleared From Jesus’ Baptism Site, Ending 50-year Shutdown
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-in-photos-jesus-baptism-site-accessible-after-landmines-cleared-1.6727000

    …… and from other sources the antics of The Usual (Abortion, Perversion & godless Socialism Lovin’) Suspects:
    I can assure you that everyone of these “poor” 800K Federal Employees are praying for a long shutdown ’cause they know full well that they will get paid for their Holiday Vacation.
    https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cnsnewscom-staff/pelosi-sounds-shutdown-alarm-more-800000-federal-employees-will-be
    Get a load of ChiTown “G”! Wrapping himself in the Bloody Robe of Jesus! Jus another Despicable who unexpectedly decided to “retire” from the House at the height of the #metoo Movement that backfired on the Liberals. If this guy had been in the GOP, we would know all the sordid details-n-reasons for his “retirement”:
    https://www.cnsnews.com/blog/craig-bannister/rep-gutierrez-trumps-border-wall-would-have-killed-baby-jesus
    OH!! …… here’s Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz who has been laying-low for awhile but know feels, since election 18, safe to surface ’cause it certainly appears that NONE of Bigs of The Left will be held accountable for ANYTHING ….. ;-( …. Yeah!! Their Gun Control Agenda is SO MUCH more important than the safety of you/your children:
    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/12/21/debbie-wasserman-schultz-we-stand-against-arming-teachers-self-defense/

    MERRY CHRISTMAS 😉
    GOD SAVE THE REPUBLIC & ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The only part that have me pause was when teen Jesus was puzzled. Otherwise this was magnificent. Answered some Joseph questions I had been pondering. This was my third time reading it. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Surely is a mystery, Mary, how Jesus can be both man and God. I think any spiritual reading that causes us to pause is a wondrous opportunity to meditate and contemplate… just as you have done in the rereading of this piece. The Scriptures are replete with verses that cause great pause, such as the lines in Luke 2:52-53 which describe what Jesus did after he was found in the temple by Joseph and Mary: “Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.” My Goodness! How DOES God Who IS Wisdom grow in wisdom as a man?! The Book of Hebrews tells us He was like us in all things but sin. In light of this, it makes sense to me that Jesus, the man, would be puzzled as a teenager. Brings to mind one of my favorite images of Jesus being taught by His Mother how to pray.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Beckita, I appreciate your time and effort in finding the most beautiful and applicable images to accentuate your comments. Same sentiment for you as well, Charlie, for your posts’ pictures. Adds another dimension for contemplation.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you, Dear Marie, for your affirmation. You have written as one who has contributed so many apropos and beautiful songs/hymns to give us hope in these days. We surely have all kinds of poetic contributions in this home!

          Liked by 2 people

    2. In the story I gave the answer to this when Jesus briefly remembered having chosen Joseph from all eternity, then pushed the memory away. I have always hated when people make Jesus out to just be God in a Halloween mask, who did not REALLY share with us our normal limitations and frailties. It diminishes the power of the Incarnation. Yet it is also true that the eternal Son of the Trinity had all power and knowledge at His fingertips at every moment. So how to deal with that paradox. For me, I think Jesus chose to set that aside as He developed normally, just as He set aside His power at the Crucifixion. You can’t kill God…but God allowed men to kill the Incarnational form. So there was a dawning awareness in the man, Jesus, as He developed – an awareness He could fully access at any moment should He so choose – but He chose to refrain so He could live real solidarity with us. Scripturally, that awareness is made clear, I think, in the temptations in the desert. He was hungry…and the satan tempted Him by confirming the knowledge that He could make bread from the very rocks on the ground – yet Jesus chose to refrain from that little exercise of power…even though no one need ever know and He was hungry. The man in Him realized He had unimaginable power, so the devil tried to tempt Him to prove it in a demonstration by jumping off a cliff…yet Jesus refrained. A poor carpenter, Jesus had become aware that He had power to rule the world instead of this hidden existence – and it would be a just, benign, rule, too. Incredibly tempting…yet He chose to remain hidden…for to impose such a rule would also have confirmed the devil’s desire to make men think that the important thing is what happens in this transient, temporal realm, not what happens with our souls. Thus Jesus is TRUE man as well as TRUE God – and not just God in a Halloween mask pretending to share our limitations and frailties. He chose to share them and could have revoked that decision at any moment, but He fully shared them to the end of His earthly course – and so because we could not truly share in His nature, He truly shared in our nature, thus making us truly part of the Divine Household. Once you cast away simplistic explanations and begin to deeply contemplate the internal consistency and coherence of Jesus taking on ALL the consequences of what He chose (except sin), it becomes truly staggering what He did for us.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Beautiful, Charlie. Truly staggering when considering that Jesus’ Passion was lived through every moment of His earthly life. Even His Precious Blood shed in His circumcision is salvific. I love the image of the wood of the Manger becoming the wood of the Cross and now the wood of the Altar with the gift of His Infinite Redemption.

        Love inter-generational choirs:

        Liked by 3 people

        1. It’s interesting and a bit unusual praying and meditating on a circumcision Becks, but it true. It is the first meditation of the Saint Bridget 12 year prayer. But you know that already. Merry Christmas to you!

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Charlie. One thig that comes to my mind at the end of your comment is that while Jesus suffered during His passion, the severe physical torments He was subjected to would make any normal human pass out from the severe pain (His falls during carrying of the cross were due to physical weakness, not passing out) He never did, indicating He deliberately choose to suffer such extreme pain consciously. Perhaps this is an example of Jesus using His divine power in conjunction with His human will.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I love the Stations of the Cross and have commented here… As I pray each station I try to imagine what was said and done in each station. Of late (past couple years) in relation to Fr. Michael Gaitley’s M.I.C., “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” I try to find instances of Whom ‘consoled’ the Heart of Jesus.

          4th Station- Jesus meets His Mother: The Eternal Father consoles the Heart of Jesus thru the presence of Mary on the way of the Cross…then {Mary- help my son}

          Mary consoles the Heart of Jesus by the strength of Simon, compassion of Veronica, and the love of women and children on the way of the cross… through her intercessory prayer.

          Liked by 3 people

      3. “…For me, I think Jesus chose to set that aside as He developed normally, just as He set aside His power at the …”

        I like to imagine God, enveloped in Mary’s womb thru His maturity as an Adult early 30’s. God truly among us as in the Garden of Eden, without ‘us’ knowing.. fastrack to our modern age, us knowing, yet not realizing…

        Liked by 2 people

  7. A little off topic but not by much. I happened across a video presentation by a former Jewish marketing professor at Harvard. His story of conversion is like none other that I have ever read or heard about. An absolutely fascinating man with a beautiful story. The video runs 45 minutes but to me it seemed like 5.

    Enjoy!

    Liked by 7 people

      1. Obviously I missed previous postings of Mr. Shoeman’s talk. I wish I had caught it the first time. This guy is so engaging and pleasant to listen to I literally couldn’t believe 46 minutes had elapsed. Did one of the cats step on the FF key when I wasn’t looking? :- /

        Charlie’s post just above here reminded me of a discussion I had with somebody who thought of Jesus as having super-human physical attributes – a physical perfection so to speak. My position was that Jesus was fully human in every physical way like us. He sweat and smelled like I do when it’s hot, hunger, thirst, pain, everything! I NEED to think of him that way so that when Lent rolls around and His passion approaches or contemplating the Sorrowful Mysteries (or at every mass for that matter), the suffering He willingly(!) endured really comes home to my heart and soul. I also had a discussion with an expectant mother about Mary’s pregnancy. Again my position was that She had all the discomforts and pain that come with every mother’s pregnancy and delivery. Would God have given Her more ‘pain killer’ graces than He gave Jesus? If anybody has a different take on this or disagrees, I would welcome any and all perspectives.

        Merry Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ to everyone here! 😀

        Liked by 5 people

          1. For centuries canonized mystics have revealed different attributes of Jesus.
            He is the highest form of mystic Himself and lived in a mystical union with His Father, Mary, St John, etc, which is no surprise as He was true God and True man.
            But what is a “true” man? Adam was a “true” man before the fall. He was gifted, before the fall, with every knowledge and perfection to fulfill his purpose as the father of all the living just as Eve was as the mother of all the living.
            In contrast, Jesus , the “spotless lamb”, was more perfect than Adam. He was perfection itself….but with a catch. He also took on the “form” of a “slave” or the “post” fall condition of man. This did not effect His nature though. Theologians have a hard time designing what this looks like: true God and true man.
            In the Pascal Mystery, Jesus becomes True Food and True Drink in the form of bread and wine but His “body, blood, soul and Divinity” are truly present.
            Does He stop being God when He becomes bread?
            No.
            The bread stops being bread and becomes God although it’s natural “form” is still bread. Similarly, when Jesus became man His form was post fall but His being was still spotless.
            Jesus is “one in being with the Father” or “True God” and because of this is omnipresent. This means He always was, always is and always will be. He is “present” to all time- past , present and future, all the time, forever and has always been this way.
            The “difficult to wrap your head around” reality is He has always known what would happen during His life so He didn’t “learn” anything new.

            Jesus came to school “us”, not Himself. It is not our task to think about who Jesus actually was but to think about what He was trying to teach us by His life.
            The mystics were given a divine view of this nature and have a clearer viewpoint because of it. It’s funny how many “doctors” of the church where given thier inside knowledge not by books but through mystical insight, including St Paul’s visions who’s deposit is now public divine revelation (Scripture).  Todays theologians mostly wrestle with Scripture where they try to divine up a new course which seems to be based more and more on mere “human precepts”. This is one of the errors Jesus condemned the Pharisees for. It seems as science makes bigger and greater “discoveries” we tend to give them more credence than God, the very Author of the creation we study.
            Because our nature is fallen, our percepts are faulty and we try to anthropomorphize Jesus to think and behave exactly like we do. This is similar to how some people believe a dog or cat or turtle or fish have human traits and feelings just like we do because some of their behavior looks so similar to ours.
            Jesus took on human form and lived a mystical but “hidden” normal life to show us that to “be perfect” can be done. The last three and a half years of His life, he did not do this but publicly established His church and revealed His Kindom and more importantly, His divinity.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Interesting choice of words, Phillip. To anthropomorphize means to attribute human qualities to what is not human. If Jesus did not truly take on our humanity, but just put on a man costume like I might put on a bear costume, how could He teach us it is possible to be perfect? He could only teach us that it is possible for God to be perfect when He pretends to be a man.

              Of course Jesus did not come to school Himself. God has nothing to learn. If He did not learn anything new during His earthly life, but knew it all in His human form from the moment of conception, how did He grow in goodness and grace? How could He have been tempted by the devil (keep in mind that the Gospels do NOT say the satan tried to tempt Jesus; they say that Jesus WAS tempted.) I did not come to my conclusions by studying science or trying to anthropomorphize Jesus – though somehow I sense I have offended you by believing that Jesus truly took on our full humanity except for sin. I came to my conclusions because the only way I can think of for all these things to be true without venturing into one of the seven heresies condemned in the early centuries of Christianity…that Jesus DID grow in goodness and grace, that Jesus WAS tempted, that Jesus did have something to teach us through His humanity is that it had to be a real humanity, not a sham…but united with the real Godhead. So the only way I can see that is that the eternal son chose to set aside some of His ever available Godly attributes when He took on our humanity in time and out of eternity.

              In fact, your thesis here does not hearken back to some old truth. It is the heresy of Appollonarianism, which gained much currency in the Fourth Century. This heresy maintained that Jesus did NOT have a human mind, that it was entirely divine and He had complete knowledge of all things that His Godhead knew during His earthly life. The Church condemned this as heresy because it denied the fullness of His humanity.

              You are right that it is a great mystery over Jesus truly having both natures, human and divine. All these were the subject of great controversies for the first 700 years of the Church. There were seven major schools of thought that ended up being condemned as heretical concerning the will and nature of Jesus during those first seven centuries. It is good to study them, so we do not fall into the trap of positing something that has long ago been formally considered and authoritatively rejected.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. I guess I caused a bit of a train wreck. I need a much longer track than this blog to fully get my meaning through as I am not succinct on a short course.
                The first train car is the word anthropormophise. Of course compairing Jesus to a human is like comparing apples to apples. My point was more to mention Jesus didn’t have a fallen nature to contend with like we do and had mystical insights like many saints historically have but unlike these saints, was in perfect understanding and conformity to the Father because He is perfect as the “spotless lamb”.
                The second train car is I did not target your story for this point but I wanted to caution how some people’s conceptions lower Jesus down to a condition where not only did He not know who He was, but was just a pawn of circumstance. A similar mindset to this was tweeted by a certain atheist recently about Mary being “forced” to concieve by God because she was afraid to say “no” since “historically” in the Old Testament God is a vengeful bully.
                Obviously he either did not read her follow up in the Magnificate or he did not understand it as she commends God who “has done great things for me”.
                The third train cart about Jesus being true God and True man and why I believe the two do not function without the other is explained here:
                “Following, then, the holy Fathers, we all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us One and the same Son, the Self-same Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same Perfect in Manhood; truly God and truly Man; the Self-same of a rational soul and body; co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us.”
                (Chalcedonian Definition; Council of Chalcedon).

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Thanks for that clarification, Phillip. It is a tricky business – which is why the Church struggled for 700 years to get it just right. The fact is, even today, many moderns posit things that were decisively rebuked as heresies over a millennium ago. Some think that Jesus is a created being, others that He is God in a Halloween mask, and all over the board. I amuse myself sometimes by telling people that while it is perfectly accurate to call Jesus the Son of God, it is equally accurate to call the Father the Father of God. The thing is, whatever we might surmise, we stand on the shoulders of giants…and it is good for all of us to consider what great saints and theologians in the past have come up with. I feel your pain, Phillip, for I have occasionally ventured into error in order to try to over-correct error from another perspective. I found a nice, short list of the main heresies concerning the nature of Jesus here. I think it may be useful for all. It is a worthwhile thing to get deep into contemplation on these things, but it requires a certain precision as we go, for it is so easy to make a small emphasis that grows into a great error. I find it particularly useful to contemplate the ways that St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas approached problems – and to do it with a little combativeness. Sometimes what they say does not immediately make sense or hold water for me…but almost always, as I contemplate deeper, I see they are right. The struggle over it helps me to think in similar (if more impoverished) channels.

                  Liked by 3 people

                  1. Oh, and another thing about heresies is that moderns think of them as something that is obviously errant. That is not the case at all. The great heresies had great logical plausibility and many advocates who honestly supported them with great intellectual sophistication and honesty. Many of the saints supported positions that were later determined to be heretical (this does not make them heretics – it is not heretical to hold a particular point of view before a definitive determination is made on it). We are dealing with things that are so much greater than us that it takes all of our collective, serious wisdom to parse through all the implications of a particular position – and sometimes hundreds of years to come to a firm determination. This stuff is not for the timid, the vain, or the easily offended.

                    While I was in Baltimore, a fellow in a group I was at dinner with asked me if the Arian heresy was more widespread than the problems today. I responded that, yes, at least 80 percent of clerics were supportive of that heresy – but there was a major difference. There was a serious, intellectual and theological case to be made for that heresy at the time, so even though it was errant, Christians could, in honest conscience, support it. Now, while we probably have a smaller number supporting errant nonsense, it is troubling because it is obvious on its face that it is a contradiction of the settled Magisterial teaching of the Church. You cannot, in good conscience, maintain that all of the Scriptural condemnations of active homosexuality actually mean that homosexuality is just peachy in the eyes of God. That is just one example. Whereas many honest ancients erred in seeking precisely what God intends, moderns err by coming up with sophistry that outright denies what God says altogether. We are more pathetic and dishonest even in the quality of our heresies than the ancients were.

                    Liked by 3 people

                    1. Giants they are Charlie!
                      Even Aquinas wanted to chuck it all after his vision of truth so perfect and mysterious to even a mind like his. He obviously considered everything he had concluded was a big lot of whoey! I understand he didn’t write anything after this vision. I guess he was embarrassed, like Job, for thinking somehow he had grasped its meaning just to decide later it was “all straw” and to do like Job and metaphorically place his hand over his mouth and stop writing.
                      Makes me wince when I write here but I am lead by inspiration so I really don’t have any agenda but to write what I am lead to.

                      Liked by 1 person

                2. I followed your thoughts o.k. I sorta have a habit of putting a thought down, jumping the next few, then putting another thought down. As if folks will understand the unspoken thoughts by osmosis.

                  It does make perfect sense that Jesus had to be fully man (human) like the rest of us, otherwise we’d have that built in excuse as to our constant sinning. Maybe He never sinned while here simply because He never wanted to. That, and He fully trusted His Father.

                  Gosh, sounds so simple, but oh so hard to truly trust and want what He wants.

                  Seems like He also picked some average, flawed men so we wouldn’t have another excuse. Imagine how put off we’d have been if He selected 12 prodigiously Holy souls as Apostles. The Church might never have gotten going with the bar set so high.

                  I don’t know what to make of him learning from Mary and Joseph. Scripture, Faith, Carpentry or whatever… The Word Himself through Whom all things were created. What a beautiful thing nonetheless. Perfect humility and obedience. Maybe He just wanted to learn.

                  Makes me wonder if the Apostles ever tried (dared) to teach HIm something. Like handling a boat, fishing and the like. I can see Peter doing that. “So we let the nets out like this, careful to keep the boat moving in this direction…etc.” Talk between friends.

                  What a thing to then experience the calming of the storm, Jesus walking on the water past the boat, a man’s lopped off ear restored in the garden… etc.” Talk between God and His children.

                  Liked by 1 person

    1. My favorite [Jewish conversion story] is Rick Rosen. His story on EWTN’s the Journey Home is awesome. He exhibits an everyday americana story; growing up in a mixed neighborhood, meeting nad falling in with the wrong girl (catholic), his jewish teachers don’t accept her but the orthodox do. Love it! Love all of his stories and wish he spoke more.

      https://chnetwork.org/journey-home/rick-rosen-convert-catholic-faith-judaism-journey-home-program/

      Liked by 3 people

  8. A classic Christmas episode (Andy singing with Ellie {not to be confused with Ellen Crump [yeah, shame it didn’t work out with Ellie… Ellen, blah.]}):

    A bit of the Scrooge story with ole’ man Weaver, but it ends well.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. FOR THE SAKE,
      Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing! It brings to mind the first rainbow of God’s creation as a sign of His love and compassion for the human race in making a covenant with Noah. God promised never again to destroy the Earth with water and made the rainbow a sign of fidelity to His Word. Thereafter, when a rainbow appears in the heavens after a rainstorm, humanity should see it as the symbol of God’s eternal love and trust in His promise of salvation.

      GEN 9:13 I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

      GEN 9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds,

      GEN 9:16 As the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant that I have established between God and all living beings–all mortal creatures that are on earth.”

      SIRACH 43:11 Behold the rainbow! Then bless its Maker, for majestic indeed is its splendor;

      SIRACH 43:12 It spans the heavens with its glory, this bow bent by the mighty hand of God.

      SIRACH 50:7 Like the sun shining upon the temple, like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky;

      JN 1:14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Complex beliefs are easier to see when expressed as simple truths. How can Mary be the Mother of God? Just as our mother provided our body but God created and infused our soul at the moment of conception in order to make us a complete and whole human being, Mary provided Jesus’ body which through the power of the Holy Spirit, God infused both the Devine and human soul at the moment of conception to make Jesus a complete and whole human being possessing both a divine and human nature, a mystery beyond human understanding, the most complex being ever conceived, an everlasting divinity coupled with a begotten by God human soul. Mary was a true and complete mother both in providing His body through normal gestation but also nurturing and mothering Him into His adult years, perhaps the most salient factors that make a true mother even of adopted children.
    May the Holy Spirit continue to protect and guide us, lead us to holiness and truth, discerning and taking the next right step as we journey on through the increasingly difficult storm through the process of the Rescue leading to the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Here’s a great piece, published in September, which begins…
    “It’s been a very busy summer, hasn’t it? Newspapers reported that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was once again verified by another utterly incomprehensible intergalactic test or other. I think everyone would agree that the very definition of insanity would be for a scientist to respond to this news by saying, “Well that does it. I’m not going to listen to Einstein anymore.”

    Yet that is exactly how people are acting. But not about Einstein. I’m talking about the Catholic Church. You see, the Church had one of its own theories put to the test, and those results also came back this summer. And like Einstein, the Church passed with flying colors. But with this, huge difference. Unlike Einstein, the Church never gets any credit. People continue to behave as if the Church knows nothing about sex and human nature. But the priest scandal proves that it does.

    St. Peter tells us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against the soul” (1 Pt. 2:11). But will anybody listen? No. Somehow, too many inside and outside the Church think that cocaine-fueled orgies are a good way to form young men and priests. But the apostles knew better.

    In the Epistle to Galatians, St. Paul teaches that asceticism is an essential dimension of the spiritual life, and thus also essential to the cultivation of the spiritual qualities of the human soul. In almost clinical fashion, St. Paul enumerates these spiritual qualities, or “fruits,” as the apostle calls them. One of these is self-control, which means that Paul is telling us that we need to practice self-denial to control our desires and passions.

    The Apostolic Brain

    Scientists confirmed this Biblical teaching when they discovered the dopamine reward system of the brain. It turns out that the indulgence of our desires stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with increased motivation and desire. Take eating for example. The more we eat, the more dopamine the brain releases, the stronger our desires for eating become. And obviously, as our desires increase in strength, they become more difficult to control…”

    More: https://stream.org/how-neuroscience-explains-sex-abuse-and-vindicates-prayer-and-fasting/

    Liked by 4 people

  11. To Charlie, Beckita and all here:

    We are in the thick of preparations now. Sometimes as we get ready for Christmas I feel like Martha, being too concerned about many things. Then I take a moment to think and realize that our great feasts in this life are but pale imitations of the great heavily banquet that Jesus has prepared for his bride, the Church, in the halls of His Father, in heaven. We are all invited. I do believe that God smiles on our earthly preparations with the thought of “Just wait until you see what I have ready for you.”

    God’s blessings on all here and on your families and friends as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child and the announcement of the greatest good news ever known.

    My love and prays to you all and especially to those who prayed for me during my illness.

    JT

    Liked by 4 people

    1. JT, please add whatever else you inadvertently forgot and I’ll gladly edit it into your original comment.
      (edit: All your thoughts are now in your original comment, JT. Beautiful! God bless you and your dear ones too.)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This warmed my heart when I bumped into it…

    From Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit:

    This Christmas, may you and your loved ones receive the peace of Christ.

    Last Christmas our seminarians and graduates performed a rendition of “The First Noel”. Video by the talented crew at Spirit Juice Studios.

    Liked by 1 person

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