The Story of Joseph
Many years ago I recall hearing a story in respect of the of the second world war. Some nuns, worked in an old people’s home looking after some elderly gentlemen. When it got near to Christmas they asked the men what treat they would like as a present and the men all agreed that cigars would be a great treat. So the nuns set about trying to obtain some cigars. But there was a war on and cigars were not readily available. So the nuns prayed to St. Joseph. After two weeks no cigars had been found so the nuns took St. Joseph’s statue which was in their parlour and turned it round to face the wall. They had asked him and he hadn’t responded so he was in disgrace. The next day there was a knock on the door. It was an American Air Force Officer from a nearby air base. “Sister, we have had a flood in our stores and we wondered if you would like to accept what is not damaged” ”That’s very kind of you” said the sister “What sort of things have you got”. “Well said the officer “We’ve got some cigars”. “Just a minute” said the sister and dashed into the parlour to turn St Joseph’s statue around again.
Another story concerns the Mill Hill Fathers who were wanting to obtain a property in Glasgow. This was in the early part of the last century when the word ‘Catholic’ could be unacceptable and especially in parts of Glasgow. Whenever the sellers got to know that it was ‘Catholics’ and even worse ‘Catholic Priests’ who were wanting to purchase then the sale fell through. On one occasion the Priests visited an excellent property which they knew was just right for their requirements. Before they left one of the priests secretly put a medal of St. Joseph on a window ledge. They returned home and prayed. Shortly afterwards they were allowed to buy the property and at less than they had expected to pay. St. Joseph is powerful!
Now a story from Medjugorje. Last winter a Community of Nuns in Medjugorje, had a surprise from St. Joseph. This is what happened: Responsible for the finances, a Sister had the job of ordering oil to fuel the burner that heats the house. By the end of October, noticing that the cost of the oil had jumped so high (66%) she was nervous about how she would cover the cost in the coming winter. In the beginning of November, when she could not put off ordering oil any longer, she only ordered 500 litres (instead of the usual 1000 litres), hoping the price of oil would drop by the time the 500 litres were used and when she would have to order more. Actually, she calculated that 500 litres would last a little under one month.
By the end of November, after one month of consumption, she expected the heater to break-down for lack of oil. But when she saw that it kept going, she looked at the level of the tank. It had not moved one inch since the first delivery of 500 litres! Then she remembered a simple prayer she had made to St. Joseph in front of everybody one morning in October: “Dear St Joseph, you noticed the price of oil, so you can see that we will not be able to keep going. Please do something! For example, you could multiply the oil in the tank! Thank you in advance!” Well, he had answered! After turning on the heat for four and a half months, the level of oil in the tank still did not change! The 500 litres remained intact. In addition, the bedrooms on the north side of the house, had radiators that stayed warm even when the heating system was not on, which made these rooms quite comfortable when they should be the coldest in house.
Those are examples of St Joseph’s tender concern.
One of the first things to be said of St Joseph is that he is ‘The Patron of the Universal Church’. The word ‘Patron’ comes from the Latin for ‘Defender’. Universal means ‘embracing the whole world and ‘The Church’ means us. So St Joseph is the defender of all of us, even of those who don’t recognize him or know him. He was specially chosen to look after Jesus, the Son of God, and he continues to look after us. He is our heavenly Foster Father.
When Mother asked me to prepare a talk on St Joseph I thought I was going to have a big problem. For instance there are only 11 Biblical references to Joseph. There isn’t much of a story to be made from so little information.
But then I remembered the book ‘The Poem of the Man God’ by Maria Valtorta. Dictated by Jesus it was written between 1944 and 1953 and is the story of the life of Jesus and Mary starting with the Immaculate Conception through to the Assumption of Our Lady. This is only Volume One of Five Volumes which make up the complete story so you can imagine how extremely detailed it is. As well as writing down what Jesus told her she was also granted visions and the beautiful way she describes the visions are an indication of why she was chosen for this important task.
Why do I accept the authority of this work? Because Our Lady of Medjugorje recommended the visionaries to read this work and I have a letter from an American man Wayne Weible, who knows the visionaries and in it he says ‘Our Lady did tell Marija and also Vicka that they could read these works. It is true, as I personally received this word from Marija.’
As I will be quoting heavily from the book, which might seem like nothing more than plagiarism, I must explain how Wayne Weible became involved and how I have complete confidence in the book’s authenticity. Let me tell you about him. He was a divorced Lutheran with children by both his wives. He ran a successful printing business and he also taught in the Lutheran Sunday School. He would tell the children “Find out things which are happening and let us know about them and we will try and find out more.” In answer to this one young girl told the class that she had heard that Jesus’ Mother Mary was appearing to six young people in Yugoslavia. To carry out his words ‘to try and find out more’ Wayne managed to obtain a video and one evening after his wife had gone to bed he sat and watched it. What was to happen was to change his life. As the video played he received a distinct inner message “You are to promote Medjugorje for me.” It was Our Lady speaking to him. But why should she speak to a divorced Lutheran; why not to Michael Blackburn? Because she knew that he was the right man for the job. If it were only Roman Catholics were ever given special gifts then we would never have heard of Florence Nightingale, Albert Einsten, Mahamta Gandhi, The Dalai Lama, Yedhui Menuhin or Winston Churchill. Our Lady could see that with his printing business and his ability as an orator he was the right person. Wayne was shocked by what was happening. He knew what he was hearing was true but he couldn’t believe it. He stayed up all night watching the video over and over again. But he always got the same message “You will promote Medjugore for me.” In a sate of shock he went to work the next morning and wrote a single size A4 sheet with the basic information of Medjugore which he had learnt. He printed off 3,000 copies and when his wife saw them she said “You are never going to get rid of all those.” She was wrong. Within a few months he was printing them in hundreds of thousands.
That led to Wayne going to Medjugorje and meeting the visionaries and as I have said the visionary Marija told him that Our Lady had recommended Vicka and herself to read this book. Here is the letter from Wayne which confirms that. With the book being so highly recommended I have no hesitation in quoting from it.
But firstly let us look at the system of espousal at the time of Our Lady and St Joseph. We find that girls as young as twelve were being prepared for marriage and the right man was being chosen for them.
In Israel, at the time of Our Lady, a marriage comprised two phases: the engagement and the wedding. The rite of the engagement, by which the marriage was essentially established, implied that the young couple should be blessed by a priest while holding each other’s right hand. During this first phase the couple did not live together. The later wedding was the solemn accomplishment of the contract and the couple began to live together.
I’ll start where the book starts. The first mention of St Joseph is when he is with a group of men who are talking quietly and seem to be anxious. They are in the Temple in Jerusalem. Joseph is about thirty years old a handsome man with short and rather curly hair, dark brown like his beard. His eyes are dark but kindly and deep, very serious and perhaps somewhat sad. But when he smiles they become gay and young looking. He is dressed in light brown; very simple but very tidy.
On a table some way from them are some dry branches one of which is in blossom. The man next to Joseph says something to him but Joseph shakes his head in denial as if to say “impossible” and smiles.
The reason for this exercise is to choose a husband for Mary who, since the death of her parents, has been in the custody of the Temple authorities.
A trumpet is heard and all the men become quiet. A High Priest enters and the men make a deep bow. The priest goes to the table and makes a long speech explaining that the branch which has flowered is that of Joseph of the tribe of David, a carpenter from Nazareth.
Joseph is called forward. Others show signs of disappointment. There is a lot of whispering. Blushing and embarrassed Joseph moves forward in front of the High Priest who says that everyone must come and check that it is Joseph’s branch which has flowered and not their own. They have to make sure that there has been no deception.
This flowering of the branch is mirrored in the Old Testament at the time of Moses. The Israelites were grumbling at Aaron’s priestly status. So Moses got twelve staffs one for each of the tribes of Israel. That night they were placed in front of the Ark, near the altar of incense. The next morning only Aaron’s staff of the tribe of Levi had sprouted blossom. (Numbers 17:1-13).
Returning to the book. All leave the room except Joseph and the High Priest who says “Mary wishes to inform you of a vow she made. Please help her shyness. Be good to her”. Joseph replies “I will put my strength and my manly authority at her service and no sacrifice on her behalf will be too heavy for me. Be sure of that.”
Mary enters with her cousin’s husband Zacharias and with Anna who had cared for Mary during her time in the Temple. The High Priest introduces Mary to Joseph, gives them his blessing and leaves. Zacharias and Anna congratulate them and also leave. The betrothed are now facing each other. Mary, full of blushes, is standing with her head bowed. Joseph who is also red in the face looks at her and tries to find the first words. When he does speak he tells Mary that he remembers her when she was a little girl and he remembers her parents. Perhaps in those days as today joiners were undertakers because he says “I buried your father, mourning over his death with a sincere heart.”
When she hears Joseph mention her father Mary takes heart holds out her hand and says “Thank you, Joseph.” Joseph explains that although it is three years since it was lived in her parent’s house is still intact and that he will go and prepare it for her. Mary is concerned that preparing the house will interfere with his work but he assures her that he will work on the house in the
early morning and evening and still have time for his day-time work. He also confides to Mary that he is a Nazerite. (Numbers 6:2-5). (That gives me some doubt as to whether he could have been an undertaker as Nazerites were not allowed to even go near a dead body. Or perhaps Joseph had only recently become a Nazerite.).
Mary has gained confidence and tells Joseph that since her childhood she has consecrated herself to the Lord. She says “My virginity is a sacrifice of love for the coming of the Messiah.” (Very prophetic words.)
Joseph gazes at her as if he wanted to read her heart. Then he takes her tiny hands and says “I will join my sacrifice to yours and we will love the Eternal Father so much with our chastity that He will send His Saviour to the world earlier, and will allow us to see His light.” (Even more prophetic words.)
Joseph returns to Nazareth to prepare Joachim and Anne’s home for Mary. She had mentioned a grotto which was at the bottom of the garden. Joseph had told her that it had been destroyed but he will build another one for her.
We move on to the espousal of Joseph and Mary which takes place not in the Temple but in a hall used for ceremonies. Mary is dressed in a simple, unassuming way. When Joseph arrives he takes Mary to one side where they can speak confidentially and quietly confirms his absolute chastity for ever. The High Priest arrives. The ceremony is very simple. He joins Mary’s right hand to the right hand of Joseph and blesses them. Mary is now Joseph’s spouse. They are promised to each other but not yet married.
Mary’s cousin Elizabeth is there with her husband Zacharias. After the marriage ceremony they move out of the hall and after farewell kisses to teachers and friends they get into a horse-drawn covered wagon. Elizabeth and Zacharias accompany them as they set off northwards.
We move to Nazareth where several day’s later the wagon arrives. Their journey is at an end. Joseph points out various places and houses which are only a faint memory to Mary.
“There is your house, Mary” says Joseph pointing to a little house which is under the edge of an undulation of a hill (which ties up very well with the present day Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.) By the house is a kitchen garden and at the end a small olive grove. Far beyond are the fields that once belonged to Mary’s father, Joachim, but had to be sold to pay for the expenses of his illness.
People arrive to welcome them and Joseph introduces his brother Alphaeus his brother’s wife Mary and their children. Others come forward “Hello Mary I am Sarah your mother’s friend. I saw you being born. My house is nearest to yours and your father’s fields are now ours. But you must come and go whenever you wish.”
Mary thanks everyone for their welcome and Joseph unloads the trunks and takes them into the house. Mary holds Joseph’s hand as they look around the house and then the garden. Mary looks as if she it taking possession of a lost place.
Zacharias hears Joseph say to Mary. “I will do more work on the garden in the long summer when I come to visit you.” Zacharias is surprised “What do you mean? Are you not getting married this summer?” Joseph replies “No, Mary wants to weave her woollen clothes, the only things missing from her trousseau. And I agree with her. Mary is young and it does not matter if we wait for a year or more. In the meantime she will get used to the house.” Zacharias is surprised by Joseph’s words but he does not know of their sacrifice of chastity.
We move on to a time after the Annunciation. Joseph calls bringing Mary some eggs and grapes. She tells him that she had heard that her cousin Elizabeth is about to have a child. Joseph opens his eyes wide and exclaims. ”At her age?” “At her age” replies Mary smiling. “The Lord can do everything and now he is giving joy to our relative.” “How do you know? Is the news certain?” “A messenger came. One who would not tell lies. I would like to go to Elizabeth to help her and tell her that I am rejoicing with her. If you will allow me….”
“Mary, You are my lady and I your servant. Whatever you do is well done. when would you like to go?” “As soon as possible. But I shall be away for some months.” “And I will count the days waiting for you. Go and don’t worry. I will look after the house and your little garden. Only….wait. Before Passover I must go to Jerusalem to buy certain things for my work. If you can wait a few days, I will come with you as far as Jerusalem I will be happy if I know that you are not on the road by yourself. When you want to come back, you can let me know and I will come and meet you.” “You are so good Joseph. May the Lord reward you with his blessings.” As Joseph leaves Mary looks at him going out and she sighs rather sadly then lifts her eyes to the Heavens. She is certainly praying.
The book moves to the journey to Jerusalem. As they travel Mary is often following her own thoughts. At times she looks around and smiles. Now and again she looks at Joseph and then an expression of sad gravity darkens her face. When Joseph speaks it is to ask her whether she is comfortable and whether she needs anything.
When they reach Jerusalem they go straight to the Temple. After worshiping the Lord they go to a nearby house of a relative for some refreshment. Joseph leaves and comes back with a man who will take Mary the rest of the journey to the nearby Ein Karem the village of Zachariah and Elizabeth. The man is known to Joseph so he is confident to place Mary into the man’s care while he returns to Nazareth and to his work.
The story moves on. Mary has been with Elizabeth for some time and a conversation is taking place between them. Mary is talking about the time when Jesus is born. “Oh how I will love him also Joseph will love him.” ”But you will have to tell Joseph” says Elizabeth. Mary’s face darkens, and she sighs. ”Yes he will have to be told and I have entrusted God with the task of informing him of his happy destiny as the reputed father of the Son of God, and He will do so. The Spirit said to me ‘Be silent. Entrust me with the task of justifying you’ and He will do so.”
The story moves on again. Mary is awaiting the arrival of Joseph who is coming to take her back to Nazareth. After the four months they have been apart she is anxious to see him again but troubled because during those four months her condition as being ‘with child’ is apparent. He arrives and they set off on their journey. As he helps Mary onto the donkey he cannot help but realise her condition. He sees, but he says nothing. He must have been totally mentally confused. As Our Lady explains; ‘Joseph suffered his passion.’ She continues; ‘His passion began in Jerusalem when he noticed my condition and it lasted many days. Only because of his holiness was it contained in such a dignified and secret form, that it has been hardly noticed throughout the centuries.’
Mary continues “Who can tell Joseph’s pain, his thoughts, his feelings? Like a little boat caught in a great storm he was in a vortex of conflicting ideas, in a turmoil of reflections, of which one was more piercing and painful than the other. He was, to all appearances a man betrayed by his wife. He saw his good reputation and the esteem of his world collapse around him. Because of me he saw scornful fingers pointed at himself and felt pitied by the village people. Above all he perceived that his love and esteem for me had fallen, struck to death before the evidence of a deed. Had he not been so holy he would have acted in a human way, denouncing me as an adulteress so that I should be stoned.
The days of Joseph’s passion were short in number, but deep in intensity. And they were a suffering for me too because I was aware of his suffering which I could not alleviate, in fact I had to obey God’s command who had said to me: “By silent!”
We arrive at Nazareth and Joseph walked away with brief goodbye and bent as if he had aged in a short time. He no longer came to see me in the evening as he used to do. In the house where everything reminded me of the Annunciation and Incarnation I wept bitterly. I had to fight despair and hope, hope, hope and pray, pray, pray. And forgive, forgive. forgive Joseph’s suspicion and his just despair.
We move on again. Mary is sitting in her orchard spinning. Her face is as pale as ivory. Under her lowered eyelashes there are two dark shadows and her eyes are swollen as if she has been crying. She is sighing like a person sad at heart. All is silent.
The silence is broken by a loud resolute knocking at the door. Mary lays down her distaff and spindle and opens the door Joseph is standing in front of her. Mary turns pale in her lips. Her face is so bloodless that it looks like a host. Mary looks at Joseph with sad enquiring eyes. Joseph looks at her with imploring ones. They are both silent, looking at each other. Then Mary says “At this time, Joseph? Is there anything you need? What do you want to tell me? Come in.” Joseph enters and closes the door. He is still silent. “Speak Joseph. What is it you want from me?”
At this point, rather than do a summary I prefer to quote directly from what is written in the book.
“I want you to forgive me.” Says Joseph. He bends down as if he wanted to kneel down. But Mary, who is always so reserved in touching him, seizes him resolutely by his shoulders and stops him.
Mary’s face blushes and blanches in rapid succession, one moment it is all red and immediately it is as white as snow as it was before. “You want me to forgive you? I have nothing to forgive you, Joseph. I can but thank you once again for everything you have done here while I was away and for your love for me.”
Joseph looks at her, and I can see two large tears welling up in the cavity of his deep eyes, they remain there as if the were on the rim of a vase, and they then roll down on to his cheeks and his beard. “Forgive me, Mary. I mistrusted you. Now I know. I am not worthy of having such a treasure. I lacked charity, I accused you in my heart, I accused you unfairly, because I did not ask you to tell me the truth. I sinned against God’s law, because I did not love you as I loved myself….”
Oh! No” You have not sinned.”
“Yes, I have Mary. If I had been accused of such a crime, I would have defended myself. But you…. I was not giving you the possibility of defending yourself, because I was about to take a decision without questioning you. I have been unfair to you, because I offended you with my suspicion. Also a single suspicion is an offence, Mary. Who suspects does not know. And I did not know you as I should have done. But for the torment I suffered… three days of torture, forgive me, Mary.”
I have nothing for which to forgive you. On the contrary, I ask you to forgive me for the pain I caused you.”
“Oh! Yes, it was a great pain! What a torture! Look! I was told this morning that my temples are white haired and my face wrinkled. These past days have been more then ten years of my life! But why, Mary, have you been so humble as to conceal your glory from me, your spouse, and thus allow me to suspect you?
Joseph is not on his knees, but he is bent so low that he is as good as kneeling down, and Mary lays her tiny hand on his head and smiles. She seems to be absolving him. And she whispers “If I had not been humble in the most perfect manner, I would not have deserved to conceive the Expected One, who is coming to pay for the sin of pride that ruined man. And then I obeyed… God had requested such obedience. It cost me much… because of you, because of the pain that you were to suffer. But I am the Handmaid of the Lord, and servants do not discuss the orders they receive. They fulfil them, Joseph, even if they cause bitter tears.” Mary weeps quietly while speaking. So quietly that Joseph bent down as he is does not notice it until a tear falls on the floor.
He then lifts his head and – it is the first time I see him do this – he presses Mary’s little hands in his dark strong ones and he kisses the tips of the rosy slender fingers that protrude like fresh buds of a peach-tree from the circle formed by his own hands.
“Now we shall have to arrange for….” Joseph does not say anything else, but he looks at Mary’s body and she becomes purple and she sits suddenly, to avoid her figure being exposed to eyes watching her. “We shall; have to make haste. I will come here…..we will complete the wedding…. Next week. is that all right?”
“Whatever you do is all right, Joseph. You are the head of the family. I am your servant.
The wedding ceremony is not mentioned in the book which takes certain things for granted. For instance we did not join with Joseph as he had his dream which explained Mary’s pregnancy. The book takes for granted that we would have that knowledge.
The story continues in the Nazareth house now shared by Mary and Joseph. Mary’s abdomen is now very big. Joseph enters the house. He looks worried and tells Mary that an edict has been posted on the synagogue door of a census of all Palestinians. Everybody must go and register in their place of origin. “We must go to Bethlehem.” Oh! Exclaims Mary, interrupting him and putting one hand on her bosom.” “It’s a shock isn’t it? And a sad one. I know!” “No, Joseph. That’s not it. I am thinking of the Holy Scriptures ‘ But you, Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born the Ruler who was promised of the house of David.’” Mary sees the finger of God ensuring that all happen according to the Scriptures.
Joseph looks at her and listens to her. He is happy. The wrinkles on his forehead smooth away. He gets up, no longer tired or worried. He smiles. “You are blessed because you see everything through Grace, of which you are full!.”
The journey to Bethlehem. Joseph is ever considerate for Mary’s well being and for her comfort. On the way they meet a shepherd who, seeing Mary’s condition, gives them some milk. He asks where they are going and when the answer is Bethlehem he shakes his head and tells them that finding somewhere to stay will be very difficult. “If all the hostels and lodging houses are full then the only place I can suggest are the stables in the mountains. They are damp and cold but will offer some shelter.” Mary and Joseph thank him for his kindness.
Indeed what the shepherd says is true. When they arrive in Bethlehem Joseph is weary going from place to place trying to find a roof over their heads but he becomes disheartened. Mary remains calm. “Joseph don’t be afraid”. Her perfect faith sustains her. Joseph recalls what the shepherd had said and they head in the direction of the mountains.
There they find a hole in the hill, beyond which leads to a grotto which is in the ruins of an old building. It is obviously used as a stable as an ox is already there. Joseph puts their donkey alongside the ox and using an old bucket fetches it some water from a nearby stream. Then he lights a fire and obtains some hay from a store place and makes it into a bedding where Mary can lay and rest.
Joseph has covered the entrance to the cave with his mantle to give some privacy which leaves him open to the cold which permeates the space.
The moment before the birth of Jesus the vault is transformed in our minds to a palace fit for a king. Once again as I quote directly from the book you will appreciate the beautiful descriptive text which is typical of the whole book.
The vault, full of crevices, of cobwebs, of protruding rubble balances by a miracle of physics, the dark smoky repellent vault, now seems the ceiling of a royal hall, Each boulder is a block of silver, each crack an opal flash, each cobweb a most precious canopy interwoven with silver and diamonds. A huge green lizard hibernating between two stones, seems an emerald jewel forgotten there by a queen: and a bunch of hibernating bats is like a precious onyx chandelier. The hay from the upper manger is no longer grass blades: it is pure silver wires quivering in the air with the grace of loose hair.
The dark wood of the lower manger is a block of burnished silver. The walls are covered with a brocade in which the white silk disappears under the pearly embroidery of the relief, and the soil…… What is the soil now? It is crystal lit up by a white light. Its protrusions are like rose thrown in homage of the soil; the holes are precious cups from which perfumes and scents are to arise.
And the light increases more and more. It is now unbearable to the eye. And the Virgin disappears in so much light, as if she had been absorbed by an incandescent curtain…. And the Mother emerges.
That is the completion of direct writings from the book.
All my readings about this moment agree that Joseph slept whilst Mary had a most beautiful ecstasy. When she awoke from the ecstasy Jesus was in her arms. Mary looks at Her Baby and adores Him both weeping and smiling at the same time. Then she calls Joseph who comes quickly but when he sees, he stops struck by reverence, and is about to fall on his knees where he is, but Mary insists. She gets up and moves towards Joseph, who is embarrassed because of his desire to retreat and his fear of being irreverent.
They met at the foot of the manger and they look at each other weeping blissfully. “Come let us offer Jesus to the Father“ says Mary. And while Joseph kneels down, She stands between the tree trunks which support the vault. She lifts up Jesus in her arms and says ”Here I am. On His behalf, O God, I speak these words to you: here I am to do your will. And I, Mary, and my spouse, Joseph, with Him. Here are Your servants, O Lord. May Your will always be done by us, in every hour, in every event, for Your glory and Your love.”
Then Mary bends down and says “Here, Joseph, take Him ” And offers him the child.” “What! I?....Me?... Oh no! I am not worthy!” Joseph is utterly dumbfounded at the idea of having to touch God. But Mary insists smiling “You are well worthy. No one is more worthy than you are and that is why the Most High chose you. Take him Joseph, and hold him, while I look for the linens.” Joseph blushing almost purple stretches his arms out and takes the baby presses him to his heart bursts into tears exclaiming “Oh! Lord! My God!”
We move on to the Presentation in The Temple. Joseph and Mary set out from a modest house. Mary rides on a donkey with Jesus in her arms. Joseph walks alongside holding the bridle making sure that the donkey goes straight without stumbling. They speak very little but often smile at each other. Reaching Jerusalem Joseph stables the donkey and ensures that it is fed. Then he joins Mary and they enter an arcade where he buys two white pigeons. Then they make their way up eight steps into the Temple. A priest approaches them and Mary offers him some coins and the two pigeons. (The coins would probably be the redemption payment of five shekels of silver which was required for the first born which is mentioned in The Book of Numbers.) Simeon approaches them and Mary and Joseph are smiling but when he makes his pronouncement Joseph gazes in astonishment. Mary’s smile fades into paleness when Simeon mentions her sorrow. Here the vision ends.;
The Flight in to Egypt. We see Joseph sleeping but he appears anxious and he is sighing as if he is having a nightmare and awakes with a start. He dresses quickly and knocks on the door of the adjoining room. Mary is there kneeling at the side of Jesus’ cradle. He asks Mary why she is not sleeping? Is Jesus not well? Her reply is that all is well, she was praying. She will sleep later. But what does Joseph want at this time of night? He tells her that he has had a vision of an angel who told him that they must escape into Egypt. The mention of ‘vision’. ‘angel’ and ‘escape’ make her realise the seriousness of the situation. She is distressed but starts to pack all that they will need into a large sack. Joseph tells Mary that they will need two other donkeys as well as their own and he will take the gifts of the Magi and go and buy them. “We will have to buy them rather then hire them as we will be away for a long time.”
When he returned Mary had finished packing the minimum necessities. “Are you ready Mary? Is Jesus ready? Have you packed his blankets? We cannot take his cradle, poor baby, whose death they are seeking.” Mary looks startled and commences to cry. “Yes, Mary. Herod wants his death because he is afraid of him. Please don’t cry. To see you cry is a greater pain for me than having to go into exile. The scene ends with Mary and Joseph astride their donkeys and with the other carrying their belongings with Joseph’s carpenters tools tied in a bundle on top as they enter the desert on their journey to Egypt.
The Holy Family in Egypt. The Bible tells us nothing about their time in Egypt so we are able to gain an insight from Maria Valtorta’s writings. They have a small house on a ground floor. It is a poor house of very poor people. Although the earth around the house is arid and poor it has been cultivated to grow some modest vegetables. Jesus is on a mat on the ground with Mary nearby weaving at a rustic loom. Joseph is seen coming on the road towards them carrying his tools. When he reaches them Mary takes the tools from him so that he can take Jesus in his arms and cuddle him. This vision also includes the Holy Family having a meal. It is a frugal meal. They are obviously eking out an existence but it is one of poverty. In all her writings Maria reports the cleanliness of everything. Poverty does not equate with things being soiled. During this vision Maria did not hear any words spoken. The visual image was all she saw.
The writings do not include the return to Nazareth. Sometimes the book does not include things which the Bible tells us. It assumes that we know those things and concentrates on what we do not know.
That happens now as Maria’s vision is of Joseph giving Jesus his first working lesson. Jesus, who is about five years old, is in the garden playing with water and trying to make a lake in the soil but as fast as he does so the water runs away. Joseph appears at the door and for some time stands very still quietly watching the work of the child and smiles. Then, to prevent Jesus from getting more wet, he calls him. Jesus runs to Joseph and explains what he is trying to do. Joseph explains that the next day they will make a small wooden basin which can be used as a lake. Jesus says excitedly, “So I will be able to help you?” “So you will help me says Joseph “and you will become a clever carpenter”.
He takes Jesus in to his workshop and shows him some of the tools they will use. He gives Jesus a small piece of wood and shows him how to saw it and plane it. Mary appears at the door and watches them. She smiles to see how zealously Jesus is working. He turns around sees his mother and runs to her showing the piece of wood which she admires and bends down and kisses him.
The finding in the Temple which the Bible contains has only the briefest mention in Maria’s book and we move on to the Death of Joseph. We see Jesus in his workshop when Mary enters “Oh! Jesus! Come, come. He is very ill!” Jesus says only “Mother” but that word means everything.
They go into an adjoining room where there is a low bed and leaning on many cushions is Joseph. He is dying. Mary goes to his left side takes his wrinkled hand and kisses it. Jesus goes to his right-hand side. He lifts Joseph into a more comfortable position he caresses the forehead of the dying man. Joseph stares at Jesus and takes his hand as if wanting to say something and also to receive strength for the last trial. Jesus goes round the bed, takes a stool and makes Mary sit on it. He then goes back to His place and takes Joseph’s hand into His own. Maria Valotorta states that the scene is so real that she can’t help crying because of Mary’s pain.
Jesus bends over the dying man and recites the psalm “Look after me, O Lord, because I hoped in you.…” Joseph smiles at Jesus and presses his fingers. Jesus replies with a smile. He continues with the psalm “How I love your Tabernacles O Lord.” Mary is crying. Joseph’s breathing becomes difficult and Jesus hastens to comfort him. As Joseph’s end comes near Jesus commences to recite Psalm 91 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, and abides in the shade of the Almighty says to the Lord: ‘My refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’ The psalm finishes with God’s response “His love he set on me, so I will rescue him, protect him for he knows my name. When he calls I shall answer “I am with you.” I will save him in distress and give him glory. With length of life I will content him, I shall let him see my saving power” Jesus has raised his voice to reach the heart of Joseph, who is sinking into the mists of death. His end is impending. He is panting very painfully. Mary caresses him, Jesus sits on the edge of the little bed, embraces him and draws to Himself the dying man, who collapses and passes away peacefully. The scene is full of solemn peace. Jesus lays the Patriarch down and embraces Mary, who at the last moment, broken- hearted, had gone to Jesus. Here the scene ends.
What of Wayne Weible? What happened to him? He converted to Catholicism and so did many of his family I’m not sure how many, maybe all of them.
Thank you Mother for choosing such a wonderful Saint for me to study and learn about.