Week Three Reflection: Journey to Bethlehem & Birth of Jesus
Verses to memorize
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem… (Lk 2:4a)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
- We know this story. It is the Christmas story. A divine child is born.
It is beautiful. But let’s look at it through Joseph’s eyes. There is
another side to it. A: How far is it from Nazareth to Bethlehem?
A: 90 miles. Q: How did people travel in ancient Israel? A: On foot
or by donkey. Q: How long would it have taken? A: At least nine
days, considering Mary’s late term pregnancy. Q: How did they eat
on a nine day journey? A: They had to bring a skin of water, some
bread and maybe dried fish.
- Q: What is on Joseph’s mind for nine days? A: What if Mary
goes into labor and delivers the child? Where to sleep each night?
Would they be attacked by robbers or wild animals? Q: Was a trip
like this ever planned by Joseph? A: No, it was a decree of the
Roman governor. He did not have a choice.
- As they approach Bethlehem, Mary tells Joseph that she is in labor.
Q: Reading between the lines of this very brief account, what was
the first thing Joseph did? A: He looked for a room in the inn. Q: Did
he find any? A: No, the town was packed with travelers registering
for the census. Q: Where does Joseph finally take Mary in her
distress? A: To a shelter for animals, likely a cave.
- Q: What is a manger? A: A wooden stand to hold the feed for the
animals. Q: If Mary wrapped Baby Jesus in “swaddling clothes” and laid
him in a manger, what does that tell us? A: Answers will vary: Mary
had to give birth in a dirty place used by animals. Q: Who assisted
her? A: Joseph, and perhaps women he might have summoned—the
Gospel gives us few details. For sure, Joseph once again, is called
upon to help and protect Mary, and now the newborn Christ Child.
Joseph is all they have!
Courtesy of The Bible Project