In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Imagine for a moment, being a young teenage girl, engaged to be married. Suddenly, your life is turned upside down with an announcement from an angel that you will bear the Son of God. And imagine how Joseph felt? Here his fiancé, whom he had not had relations with, was expecting a child, as told to him in a dream! How to explain all this to family and friends? What would be expected of the earthly parents of the Son of God? Oh, my!
God didn’t make it any easier for Mary and Joseph when Caesar Augustus ordered the census be taken. The heavily pregnant Mary, riding many miles on a donkey, was forced to welcome her baby in a dingy manger. Perhaps she expected a warm, comfortable bed on which to birth the King of Kings? Joseph likely had expectations that he, as the family provider, would be able to provide a more appropriate place for welcoming God’s son.
Both Mary and Joseph are very much role models for us in our daily lives. How many times do we ask God “why me?” when we are presented with an unexpected circumstance or challenge? It’s easy for us to think that what God is asking us to do would be better done by someone else. God challenges us to be closer to him, sometimes in ways we don’t appreciate at the moment. God awakens us with these challenges. Let us accept and welcome(!) them as a way to be closer to him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to welcome the unexpected from you just as Mary and Joseph welcomed your certainly unexpected Son. Let me grow closer to you through whatever challenges I face, with you by my side. Amen.