Advent Adventure
Day 24 for Friday

Advent Adventure

Advent AdventureWe told you we'd tell you more about the customs of the time when Jesus was born, so you'd have a better understanding of Saint Joseph's actions.  Today's Jesse Tree video is about him, too.

Here's how betrothal and marriage worked in the time of the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph were already essentially legally married: "betrothed" meant not "engaged to be married," but really married to each other so that they would need to get legally and publicly divorced to be free to marry someone else.

There were two ceremonies that made up the "marriage:" first, the betrothal ceremony, which would take place in the bride's home, where she would stay until the marriage ceremony, and then the marriage ceremony in which the bride would leave her father's home to live with her husband in her husband's home. Listen to the Gospel in the video today: the first ceremony had clearly taken place, but the angel refers to the second as something that has not! But the "betrothal" ceremony is public and binding: they are legally married at that time, just not living together. That's why Mary and Joseph are called husband and wife.

Now, let's think: what would Mary have done after the archangel Gabriel appeared to her? I think we know any woman who was "betrothed" would tell her husband what had happened, right? She wasn't sworn to secrecy by the angel, so why would she NOT tell him? In fact, what had occurred was quite important to a married couple, and it is only expected that she would tell her husband everything, don't you think? The Gospels don't tell us what she did regarding Joseph, but we do know that their marriage is the model for us, and that she was honest, forthright, and "full of grace," so it seems to me that she would have immediately told Joseph all that had happened--and we do know from this Gospel that Joseph knew about Mary's pregnancy (somehow) and was struggling with what to do "quietly."

"Quietly" suggests that there was nothing that the public world knew at the time of Joseph's struggle--if there was a publicly known scandal at this time, there would be nothing "quiet" that could be done. This is not 21st century Western culture where people just get divorced willy-nilly and no one cares.

One more thing: Joseph knew Mary's character, so don't you think he believed her when she told him? The dilemma, seems to me, is precisely what role Joseph is expected to have in this astounding plan of the Messiah?

Joseph wasn't mentioned by Gabriel, and it is difficult to discern: God's plan to send His Son to earth as a baby is completely unexpected, shocking, astounding--so, what does it mean for Joseph? What is God's plan for the fulfillment of this marriage and Joseph's role? Surely this helps explain Joseph's dilemma regarding his betrothed, whom he would know was a girl of exceptional faith, love, and integrity.

Now, here's something else that we don't know: we don't know how soon the second ceremony (the "marriage" ceremony) was to occur compared to the time when Mary became pregnant, but some theologians think that Gabriel probably appeared just before this was to happen--so that God's plan included ensuring Mary would be protected and cared for by her husband, Joseph, throughout her pregnancy. We just don't know.

However: we do know that Mary went to Elizabeth very soon after Gabriel appeared. Girls (especially betrothed girls--she's not a "modern" engaged girl, remember, who could just go wherever she wanted when she wanted) did not just take off wherever they wanted at this time. This was occupied Roman territory and dangerous. Girls were to be under the protection of their father or husband. So, someone had to permit her to go visit Elizabeth and ensure her safety along the way to her destination. Was she under Joseph's protection by this time--meaning, had Joseph been told by the angel to "take her into his home," by then? Possibly. We don't have the timeline revealed, since each aspect of the story is in a different Gospel!

What we DO know from this Gospel, is that whenever it occurred, Joseph immediately obeyed the angel and "took Mary into his home." In other words, the second ceremony was fulfilled right away, and Joseph assumed protection of Mary, her baby the Son of God, and then assumed all the roles of father to Jesus (including naming Him--listen to the angel's message to Joseph!), so that in the time of Jesus' ministry, people ask of Jesus, "is he not the carpenter's son?"

Listen, discuss with your children, pray--and prepare as Joseph did to "take Mary and Jesus into your home"!

Click the green audio "play" button to pray with us the Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity

Pray the Angelus with us by clicking below.


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Activities for the Day

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Holy Heroes Coloring Page

Holy Heroes Coloring Page

Quiz 2

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Sacrifice List

Advent Wreath blessing and prayers

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Blessing of a Nativity Scene

Blessing the Christmas Tree

Angelus prayer

Script for Rosary Audio for the Day