Waiting for Baby Jesus
Novena of the Holy Christmas 1998: by H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti
" I have come for the closing of the novena and I have heard the whole words the priest pronounced. He gave you the knowledge and made you love more Mary, Joseph and the little Jesus. He also made emerge the profiles of Elisabeth and Zachary, the characters who, in these days, are the most appearing ones in the Gospel story. The Mother thanks you for that all you have done during this Holy Novena: prayers, sacrifices, small privations and food abstinence " (Letter of God, 23rd December 1998).
The Holy Christmas Novena, preparing the birth of Jesus, clearly tells about the biblical characters with precision and details. We have to live these moments of grace not like a simple audience in front of a cinema sequence, but like persons living the described events.
Through the knowledge of the Gospel stories we can grow loving Jesus the Eucharist and Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
This novena was preached by Don Claudio Gatti to prepare Christmas 1998. The young people of the community recorded, transcribed, reviewed and adapted the text into a written version. This remarkable commitment was accomplished by our young people with love, sacrifice and enthusiasm, because they know how the novena can bring great spiritual support and, for many brothers and sisters, how to get closer to Baby Jesus.
"I am the one who is". This is the definition God gave of Himself.
Since eternity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, God One and Three has been alone. This statement makes waver the human reason, because it is incomprehensible that a being cannot have a beginning. All creatures and human beings have a beginning, God doesn't. God exists beyond eternity giving glory to Himself. God doesn't need creatures, his happiness doesn't depend on them, but, because He is love, He intervened and created first the angels and then the universe and the men. They sinned and God intervened once again to save them.
In God's mind the plan of salvation has always been clear, limpid, perfect, known since eternity.
However, when this plan was reveled to men it did not have yet clear outlines, but it became clarified with the time and little by little became more precise and comprehensible.
Which was God's purpose for creation? Love. But men, created by God with natural, preternatural and supernatural talents, got revolted against their creator committing sins of pride and went away from Him.
The same love that pushed God to create, pushed Him, at the same moment in which the man sinned, to reveal the plan of salvation.
In fact, God affirms in the book of Genesis: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your lineage and her lineage, she will crush your head and you will attend her heels" (Genesis 3,15).
The first Eve has been defeated, but the second gained victory, and the fight will continue between the devil's lineage and the Lady's one. God says that the Lady's lineage will crush the demon's head; this is the first announcement of God's plan of salvation.
Abraham, 4.000 years before the birth of Christ, from the land of Caldea, from the city of Ur, was invited by God to move to the land where the crib of the designed nation of the Divine promise is located. Abraham, unable to give birth, and his wife Sarah, aged and sterile "will have a son" (Gen 18,10) according to the divine promise. The whole Abraham's lineage became the bearer of the plan of salvation, because this promise concerns the 12 tribes of Israel whose origin was the 12 Jacob's sons. The plan of salvation was outlined later when God announced that the Messiah will be born within the lineage of the tribe of Judas.
God turned his sight towards Jesse“s youngest son: David. Christ, under legal features, because legally speaking his father is Joseph, or, under natural features, because He was born from Mary, is from David's lineage, as Mary and Joseph are both from the Saint King's lineage. God used the prophets not only to reveal from which lineage will come the Messiah, but also to give with precision the details regarding Christ's figure.
With Isaiah the Messiah is presented as the servant of Yaveh, to Whom, in a particular way is given the cult, the one Who takes all the sins for him and exposes Himself to suffering to take out the sins of the world and to destroy the evil. The Messiah will have an unfortunate destiny: He will be murdered by the nation of Israel, the same nation God had chosen and the one the Messiah was born from. Furthermore, Isaiah puts in evidence the Messiah's Divine nature: He“s not a man like the others, but a man who participates within the Divine nature, and Ezekiel adds that He will manifest this nature through his divine power.
Reading the Bible we notice that the plan of salvation is described by God with more and more distinguishing marks the more the times of its realization approach. The prophet Daniel, regarding the Messianic Kingdom says that it will be universal, will transcend the tight Jewish nation's frontiers, will embrace the whole world and will have a specific spiritual character.
Why did God send the Messiah? He said: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your and her lineage". The first Eve brings the sin with her, the second Eve, Mary, brings the grace, because all that the Messiah had accomplished was for the forgiveness of all sins.
And us? On which side of this plan do we want to place ourselves? On the side of those who have murdered the Messiah? Christ is still being murdered every time men sin and revolt against Him. Or we prefer to take the place of the good thief who, fully conscientious of his sins, begs to the crucified: "Lord, remember me once you enter in your Kingdom" (Lc 23,42). But also exists a third possibility, John's attitude, who faithfully reclined his head on the Lord's chest.
Even if we have been like Peter who denied Christ, we have to try to be like John, the one who saw, believed (John 20,8) and loved.
Together with John, because we saw and believed in the eucharistic miracles, we have to try to love and make love be our style, the goal and the target of our entire life.
In the 16th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus asks his apostles: "And you, what do you say about who I am?". Peter, illuminated by God, answers in the name of all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".
This means that the second person of the Holy Trinity was incarnated and is true God and true Man. In the Old Testament we can hear speaking about "A virgin who will become mother of the Emmanuel, which means God with us" (Isaiah 7,14). The Lord, to be incarnated, chose the ordinary way: He had parents, the legal one, Joseph, to live the normal situation of every human being, and the natural one, Mary, "Who conceived and gave Him birth" (Luke 1,16).
The Gospel does not give us many details about Jesus' parents, but the private revelations tell us about their life, which are not included in the public ones, giving us the possibility to have a better knowledge of both characters who have a relevant place in God's plan.
In St. Mathew's first chapter, we find the following genealogy: "Jacob gave birth to Joseph, Mary's husband, from whom, Jesus was born, called the Christ" (Matthew 1,16). The private revelations tell us that Joseph was prepared by God to become Mary's husband, living a different life style in contrast with the culture and mentality of that time. In fact, at the times of Joseph's life, people did not understand how a married man could live in chastity. God, Who prepares the ones He chooses for his plans, formed Joseph to live in a chaste way and to make a vote of chastity. The Lord manifested this to Joseph in an ordinary way, suggesting him the good purposes, good understanding, good thoughts, and through an extraordinary way, with visions and dreams.
Joseph met Mary when he was still young. Unfortunately, the tradition shows him like an old man. This happened because many artists and sculptors were influenced by some apocryphal evangels where we can read facts regarding the Lord, and some facts really happened, but some others didn't. God did not inspire these books and they are not exempt of errors.
In one of these books is written that at the times in which Mary should be married, Zachary the Priest called a meeting in which were invited to participate all the male descendents of David's lineage. Being in front of many men, the Priest said that the one, who the Lord will put in blossom his wood stick, will spouse Mary; and, Joseph who was 90 years old and had a son of 40 years, with his wood stick in blossom became Mary's husband. In one of these apocryphal evangels, we find this story, but the truth is a different one.
Joseph was a 30 year-old young man, awesome, stout and attractive, many young ladies were in love with him, but most of all, he was humble and simple. Joseph used to live near Jerusalem during his young days. The reported facts in the apocryphal evangels tell us the names of Mary's parents who were aged, Joaquin and Anna, names that Our Lady confirmed dictating to Marisa her life diary. Her parents died when she was four or five years old and Mary's custody was given to the prophetess Anna, Zachary the Priest and the old Simeon.
Mary spent her childhood and adolescence in the temple learning the arts of embroidery. She loved to sing psalms and hymns; in fact, she has a wonderful voice as Marisa can testimony because she heard her singing.
Also Mary was prepared during her youth to accomplish the mission God wanted by having long conversations with Him.
Mary and Joseph both emitted the vow of chastity, but God put in their young hearts the love. They met inside the temple, they liked each other and felt reciprocally the attraction, Joseph's sight stopped on Mary's one and her heart has begun to beat faster since the moment she saw this young man, pure and awesome. She knew immediately that God wished him to be her husband.
Mary and Joseph got married in Jerusalem. Therefore, having a humble house in Nazareth, they went to live in this little town of shepherds and peasants, a small town living in silence because the roads connecting Jerusalem and other important cities of Judea, Galilee and Samaria to the Middle East were far away; and the caravans transporting the news avoided the small countryside. Nevertheless, in this little land the most important event of the world's story came true.
Mary and Joseph, Matthew the Evangelist says, got engaged. The Hebrew engagement was different to the engagement we understand today. The fiancés, under the legal aspects, were considered already married, and it was well respected, because, if in any case, during the engagement period, the lady had come to be considered adulteress, she should have been condemned to be lapidated and if the man had died, in this particular case, under the prescriptions of the levirate law, his brother would have married the young widow and taken under his custody the children of the late deceased husband.
In legal terms, the fiancés were considered wife and husband even if in the first year of marriage they did not live together. This occurred for economic or psychological reasons, because during this period of engagement, the wife“s dowry was paid, they were very young, and also to give time to get ready for the role of being wives and eventually mothers.
Joseph knew the purity of Mary, her virtues, her intimacy in union with God; Mary appreciated Joseph's deep spirituality, both realized the great spirituality of each other.
Mary was 14 -15 years old, Joseph just a little bit more than 30. They loved each other, dialogued very often, prayed together, sang together and praised God together.
Every time they sang psalms or read the prophecies regarding the Messiah, Mary's heart skipped a beat and Joseph felt a particular warm feeling without knowing yet that the lady he married would become the Mother of God.
Mary and Joseph were prepared to live silently and in a hidden way the most important event of the world's story ever.
Certainly, when God looked at these two creatures praying and loving tenderly, surely smiled very pleased.
In the Genesis book is written that God created the sun, the earth, the sky, the sea, the birds, the animals, and, looking at his creation He saw He had done a good thing; this expression manifests God's liking and approval of his creation; and, if God likes all things He created, even more will be pleased looking at these two masterpieces.
God the Son also looked at the mother and his putative father and He loved them immensely.
For a better understanding of St. Luke“s Evangel, where we find the annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, it is necessary to make some preliminary remarks. The first one concerns the period in which the annunciation occurred. Certainly, it happened during summertime because Jesus was born in springtime. The second one consist to remember that God gives indications regarding the seasons period in which his plans came true but not always indicates the day and the month.
Mary knew she would become the Mother of God and probably also knew when, in which year, but not exactly the day and the month.
St. Luke tells us that in the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy, "The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin, betrothed to a man of the House of David, named Joseph" (Luke 1,26). The angel, who had already manifested himself to Mary in other occasions, knew that he was in front of God's masterpiece, the one who was "Full of Grace". The Angel continued saying to Mary: "Our Lord is with thee", because God gave to Mary, beyond the fullness of grace, all the natural, preternatural and supernatural talents.
"She was greatly troubled at what was said" (Luke 1,29). This emotional upheaval can be explained as follows; the Virgin Mary was praying, knowing she will become the Mother of God, of the suffering man, the one who will be murdered and will redeem mankind with his death canceling the sins, but at the angel's salutation, Mary felt a deep emotion.
Mary's emotion has been a suffering emotion, she is troubled because, adding to the joy of becoming mother, she suffered knowing that her Son would be slandered, offended and murdered. Mary asked to herself if this salutation came from God. In this case, she was ready to become mother, but the sword, as announced later by the old Simeon, "will pierce her soul" (Luke 2,35). For this reason, the angel said to her "do not be afraid", but this sentence doesn't have the same meaning of what the angel said to Zechariah (Luke 1,13). Zechariah was afraid of being in front of a supernatural creature, instead, the Virgin Mary began to suffer even if the Son of God was not present yet in her womb and she was assailed in a deep and cruel way. The angel consoled Mary like the angel in the Gethsemane will console Jesus, because He will feel alone, crushed and abandoned by God. Mary, the Co-redeemer, could not share this news with someone, not even with her beloved husband, she abandoned herself totally to God. When the angel said to Mary: "You will conceive a son", Virgin Mary asked: "How can this be? I don't know man" (Luke 1,34); that is: "Since I am chaste, virgin and I want to stay it, I had no relations with a man". Mary ask this question for us, not for herself, like Marisa, who knows many things about the Church's future and many times asks Our Lady regarding the future for us, because we can also be aware of what the future could bring. In fact, how could we know about the mystery of incarnation, seeing a Virgin who becomes mother if God Himself had not explained this event?
Nature has its rules dictated by God. God is the author of nature, the creator, and, as He established the rules, He can infringe and lift them. The Virgin Mary knew already that her cousin Elisabeth, the one who everybody used to call the sterile, was pregnant. Mary entered in divine ecstasy, in a direct and contemplative dialogue with God. If God communicates with simple people like Marisa, much more He did with Mary. With the Three Divine Persons, Mary spoke about the Son and the Baptist, a child she specially loved, because he would be the precursor of "Her Jesus". The greatness, the unity and wonderful talents of this Lady were ignored by the world that did not know the Masterpiece of God living in a hidden, humble and silent way, which only now begins to be known.
In front of Mary, we should stay contemplative to see the richness, the fullness of grace. The angel, standing up, announced the message from God and the Virgin Mary was on her knees listening to him. Now, when she was saying: "Behold, I am the handmade of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1,38), the Verb became flesh and the angel went immediately on his knees because he was in front of God. The angel Gabriel was the first being, the first creature to adore God in Mary's womb, the first eucharistic tabernacle and after the adoration "departed from Her" (Luke 1,38). The angel went away from Mary, but we stay closer adoring Jesus in Mary's womb, present with his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
Joseph and Mary were happy, calm and joyful. They were poor and rich: poor in assets, rich in spiritual wealth. They had been living in Nazareth for a short while, when, in the annunciation day, Mary had the confirmation that Elizabeth, who everybody knew to be sterile, had conceived a child six months before.
To this happy young couple, the only joy they did not have was to have a descent. The Virgin Mary knew that even keeping the pureness of her virginity, she would become mother, and she knew she would enjoy the happiness of maternity. Instead, the great Joseph, who had offered his chastity to God, knew he would not be part of this conception. This is the reason why Joseph is the one who suffered more at that moment, because he voluntarily renounced to what for the Hebrew mentality was considered a gift from God: paternity. In fact, for the Hebrews, not to conceive a son was considered a terrible shame and this also means that God did not bless people without descent.
Elizabeth and Zechariah, from the lineage of Aaron, brother of Moses and the first high priest, were residents of Ain-Kanim, near Jerusalem, 150 km far from Nazareth. They did not have descent. Elizabeth was sterile and both were aged (Luke 1,7). In all their lives they have constantly and hardly prayed to have a child. Joseph renounced to paternity free to choose, instead, Elizabeth and Zechariah have prayed, they did sacrifices and food abstinence periods to have a child. They have asked a miraculous intervention to God and the Lord granted their wishes.
Zechariah saw the vision and heard the message of the angel in a different way than Mary.
Mary had already a familiar relationship with the angels; Zechariah was troubled in front of this supernatural apparition and really feared when he saw the angel. For the Hebrews, this was a normal feeling regarding supernatural manifestations. Zechariah was burning incense before the cruel animal's sacrifice ritual. The priest should accomplish this ritual only once in the priesthood. God intervened during the preparation of the ritual, which was considered the most solemn moment in a priest's life.
Gabriel told to Zechariah not to fear because his wishes were granted and he would be father soon. He could not believe what it was happening to him and for this reason he became mute. Since he went out of the Sacred Place, the people outside immediately understood he had just lived a great experience. The Evangels do not go further, but by private revelations we know that Zechariah, with deep emotion, confused, troubled, went home to see his wife who already knew the good news in a confuse way. Since she saw her husband, Elizabeth wanted to know in details what happened to Zechariah, first with gests and than with writings; he explained to her his extraordinary experience. Elizabeth immediately believed in God's intervention and received supernatural help, more strong and efficient. Elizabeth, humble and always with a praying attitude, lived in a total hidden way, because this maternity caused uproar. Elizabeth could not share the joy of her maternity with other people, she was afraid to see the ironic smiles in their faces and for this reason "She went into seclusion for five months" (Luke 1,24).
John the Baptist will be a great man, he will not be born from a woman greater than he will, but his mother is also a great woman, because she felt in advance the suffering of her son. John will have a strong opposition; the Law Doctors will persecute him, the Priests too, and the King Herod will request to cut his head. Elizabeth was distrusted and ironically treated by her friends and family members, but God was preparing another gift for her: a 14 year-old young lady ready to be at her service, Mary of Nazareth.
A less attentive Evangel reader could think that after the angel Gabriel's annunciation to Mary, everything came back to normality, but it was not that way, because the invisible became visible. The angel went away from Mary and returned to the Father; in the same way, when the apparition comes to the end, Our Lady says: "Now I return to the Father". The angel during the annunciation, and the Mother of the Eucharist during the apparition are messengers of God; and, once the mission is accomplished, it is just right, for the ones who receive a command from God, once the work is done, to go back to honor and adore Him. Everything comes from God and everything returns to God. When the angel Gabriel went back to God, at the same time, a myriad of angels entered on Earth. In Paradise, the angels see, enjoy, praise and adore God, and since the moment God has been present like a man in Mary's womb, the angels surrounded this human tabernacle continuing the praising and adoration acts they had begun in Paradise. The angels praised Jesus Child prostrated in adoration in front of Him.
We can put side by side the Incarnation and the eucharistic miracles, of which we have been witnesses. Every time an eucharistic miracle occurred, not only the present persons during the event who have seen and adored the Eucharist had been exclusively blessed, but the whole Church received the benefits and plenty of graces. Consequently, when Jesus the Eucharist made Himself present in this extraordinary and miraculous way, He gave spiritual richness to all men, including to the ones who do not have knowledge of these miracles.
Nobody had knowledge of the Incarnation, not even the powerful ones, neither the humble. Not even his putative father, Mary's husband, knew that the Son of God was incarnated inside his wife“s pure womb. Nevertheless, the whole creation, that was carrying the heavy load of sins, felt that the liberation came and the evil was to the point to be defeated. Consequently, the Incarnation brought benefits to all nations, to all men, even transcended into continents like Australia and America, completely unknown at those times. The Incarnation is God's powerful action, and as it is, spread an enormous quantity of spiritual blessings and benefits over all.
The first thing Mary did after the Son of God incarnated inside her womb was to adore God present in her. In her prayer were gathered all the Old Testament just' prayers who waited for the Messiah; all the suffering of the prophets, of the messengers of God, who had suffered incomprehension and pain from their own brothers. In this particular moment, Mary was the chalice welcoming the Son of God in its inside and the paten where all the prayers of the entire mankind were stored. Mary represented all men, she was the most pleasant human being to God, she liased God and the prayers of all men, for what Mary was in a deep prayer attitude, and from the bottom of her heart came out a thankful shout and the full acceptation of God's plans.
Was it right that Mary did not tell anything to Joseph? According to the human logic, certainly not, but yes according to God's will. Also Joseph should participate with God's plan of salvation and contribute to the plan of redemption, not because God needed it, but because Joseph was a chosen soul, it was right. Joseph was a soul particularly loved by God, a soul who lived a total union with God, who abandoned himself to God, for this reason the Lord wanted him to be Mary's husband and Jesus' putative father offering his part of suffering. When the fortunate partners were in union praying and singing the psalms, during the reading of the Messianic prophesies, from the heart of the Mother of God emanated a fire of love to the Messiah and Joseph contemplated Mary in ecstasy, having a celestial sight and attitude, but he never questioned about this events.
As Luke says, Mary kept all in her heart and told to her husband only what God agreed. The first eucharistic tabernacle lived during some months in the most complete silence and kept well this great secret. God is union, is a fountain of love and both partners were always very united, they truly had one soul and one heart.
We all could be also in union with Mary, waiting for her Son's birth. Our Lady invites us to say this ejaculatory prayer: " Jesus Child, God of love, come to be born in my heart", and she told us: "Wait for Jesus Child, Who comes to you once again, receive Him in your hearts, cradle Him, make Him feel your love to Him, and for the whole Church".
Now, we tell about Mary's visit to Elisabeth. Our Lady is expecting the Messiah by the Holy Spirit's intervention and her cousin Elisabeth is expecting the Messiah's precursor by a miraculous intervention of God "because Elisabeth was sterile and both (the married couple) were aged" (Luke 1,7).
The relationship between the Messiah and his precursor was particular and tight. According to the divine plans, the precursor should be sanctified in the Mother's womb through God's intervention. Even a simple God's will action could be enough to sanctify John the Baptist, but in God's plan was established that the Messiah will sanctify the precursor with his presence.
By divine inspiration, Mary knew she should go to see her aged cousin to accomplish God's will. Mary has been always very compliant and obedient to the divine will and manifested once again her docility to God. She was recently married and just had moved to Nazareth, but she is ready to face a new uncomfortable trip, uncertain and dangerous. Joseph did not put any kind of obstacles against her desire to travel. He did not know yet about the Holy Spirit's intervention in Mary's womb. He thought that traveling to Aim Kanim, 150 km far from Nazareth, was an act of love to bring assistance and her particular affection to an old woman. Joseph was happy to serve to this act of love too and took the decision to go with Mary. Because of this trip, Our Lady was criticized by friends and family members who tried to impeach Joseph to travel. Regarding this opposition we have to recognize a devilish influence. The devil is intelligent and understands better than men God's plans, so he makes everything he can to oppose God's plans. But the sweetness, docility and firmness of Mary were stronger against the opposition shown by friends and the family.
The young married couple took the road for a long trip, at that time, it should take almost six or seven days traveling. During the trip, the young couple prayed a lot and sang to stay well. The beautiful voice of the young lady got perfectly in duet with the strong voice of her husband and both praised God. Their wonderful songs resounded in the desert roads. Even the angels came to sing together with them and to give glory to God Child, present in Mary's womb.
This travel was the first eucharistic procession: Jesus was not exposed in an ostensory, but He was present inside the virginal womb of the Mother of the Eucharist.
Joseph did not know that the Son of God was with them, but felt something deep in his heart, an unexplained joy, incomprehensible, and because of the divine presence, received power, courage and support.
During the trip, the young married couple surely spoke about the Messiah. Joseph was one of the last Hebrews to keep the spiritual concept of the Messiah unchanged, and constantly prayed for Him to come soon. This situation makes us know Joseph as a nice, real, spontaneous and strong person.
It was an uncomfortable trip because there were no restaurants or lodges to stay on the way. They have eaten bread and probably some dates and drunk water, no meat or fish, because it was impossible to conserve them for so many days. Nevertheless, they were happy because they knew they were accomplishing God's wish.
When the young couple arrived to Ain Kanim and they entered in Zechariah's house, Elisabeth came to them and exclaimed: " Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb! And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me?" (Luke 1, 42-43).
Elisabeth did not say this in front of all the present persons because "the great mystery" could not be manifested yet. For the moment, only Mary and Elisabeth knew that the Messiah was incarnated in her womb. According to the Hebrew tradition, in Zechariah's house were other persons, Mary and Joseph exchanged greetings with them. The young couple congratulated the elders, Elizabeth and Zechariah, for the prompt birth of their son. Than, with discretion and reserve, Mary and Elizabeth went together to another room to exchange confidences.
The conversation between both women occurred in a secret way, because, if somebody had heard the words pronounced by Elisabeth, certainly could have understood that in Mary's womb the Messiah was present. According to God's plan, this mystery has to be well kept, and, for the moment, revealed only to the one chosen to be the mother of the Messiah's precursor. Certainly, the conversation between both women did not end with Elisabeth's exclamation and Mary's answer singing the hymn to love: the Magnificat, because their conversation was extended to three months, the period in which Mary stayed to serve her old cousin.
For work reasons, Joseph left his young spouse and returned to Nazareth. We can imagine the suffering both felt, but they voluntarily accepted God's request. Mary and Joseph, regarding their mutual affection, were like any other simple couple. When Joseph took the road, the spouse, from the house door, followed with her sight the figure of her husband until he disappeared in the horizon and Joseph turned back to say goodbye. Feeling pain in their heart and probably with some tears in their eyes, signs of strong and sincere reciprocal love, Joseph returned to Nazareth. Before the departure, he asked Zechariah for his blessing, because the priest is an intermediary between God and men and one of the duties of the priest is to bless. Joseph bowed his head in front of God's representative who asked the divine blessings over the young man who should return to his country.
Mary and Elisabeth were talking about their sons. Mary showed a particular love to the child in her cousin's womb and manifested this love in all ways, serving the mother and caressing her womb; Elisabeth gave back to her this gesture too. They have prayed together so much for their sons and for their mission. With maternal prayers, loving prayers, both were like lamps burning in front of God. Mary accomplished her service duties with humility and did not pretend to have an important role, she did not want a privileged position because she was the Mother of God, but she reserved to herself the duty of servant of God and of her cousin Elisabeth. Because she defined herself as a servant of God, she wanted also to be servant of the neighbors.
When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah's house, which was always silent, discreet and reserved, became a place full of confusion, because family members and friends were competing to have the "first position". Mary stayed away, but she perfectly knew that this child would be called John, instead the family "wanted to call him like his father, Zechariah" (Luke 1,59).
Mary did not intervene in discussions, she lived her role with humility and this should be a lesson to be followed. She was present at John the Baptist's birth. John the Baptist was sanctified and the guilt of sin was washed away from him because of the divine action of God's Son, present in Mary's womb. This child was born already redeemed, because the grace of redemption was applied to him with anticipation. As mother, Elisabeth kissed John first, in this Mary showed again her humility, she did not pretend to precede and only after Elisabeth's kiss, she showed her affection to this child.
Once her duties finished, Mary waited for Joseph's return. Before her trip back to Nazareth, she also asked to be blessed by Zechariah. Remarkable was Mary's suffering leaving the child she particularly loved. Our Lady took for the last time the baby in her arms, bringing her Son's precursor tightly to her heart, she kissed him, she caressed him and, as she will do with her Son, she raised him up to God the Father.
Back from Ain-Karin, the young couple took back their ordinary life in Nazareth. Joseph used to share the journey with his beloved wife. Together they prayed, recited psalms and hymns and read the Word of God. The months passed and Joseph realized that his beloved wife began to have signs of pregnancy. He began to be torn by doubts between the love to his wife and the respect of the law. Joseph received from God a special talent to recognize good and evil. He knew that Mary was a grace treasure and was totally sure she will never commit adultery, but he couldn't give to himself a clear explanation. He realized this event was unexplainable to him, but he would not accuse his wife of adultery; nevertheless, there was a law about it to respect. He was sure not being the father of the child to be born, but he was also sure to have a saint wife; so he protected her from negative thoughts and judgments, and decided to write the repudiation pamphlet, not to wash his hands, but as an act of respect regarding Mary. In view of this fact, Joseph did not aggress his wife, did not ask questions, did not search for explanations, but prayed and suffered. His soul was lacerated, his eyes were seeing something unexplainable, but his heart was telling him to continue respecting his beloved wife. Joseph was badly proved. This suffering was according to God's will, because St. Joseph should give his contribution to the plan of salvation. It was a beautiful way, a great way in which God's Son, Mary's natural Son, asked to his legal father to collaborate, to give his contribution, unconsciously, to the plan of salvation. Joseph perfectly knew the Messiah's coming, but he did not know that his wife was the Messiah's Mother, and even less, that he would be the Messiah's legal father. That's why, in my opinion, we don't have to talk too much about Joseph's doubt, but most of all, the suffering and the laceration of this great saint which was well understood by Mary, who realized that her beloved husband was suffering so much. Both creatures deeply loved each other, they continued to pray together, they looked each other's eyes and suffered.
Joseph received from God special talents. He also had communication with God through experiences called dreams by the Evangelists, but in reality they were interior visions, and through these visions God communicated his will to the one He chose to be the husband of His Divine Son's mother. A Lord's angel appeared to Joseph in dreams and told him: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1, 20-21). The angel repeated to Joseph the same he said to Zechariah and Mary: "Do not be afraid". Joseph knew the Lord gave him for wife an exceptional woman who became Mother of God and did not feel to have the dignity and to be able to accomplish this commitment. He thought not to do it and asked himself: "Who am I, why did God put his sight on me?". But when God calls, He gives the necessary help to the chosen ones to accomplish the given mission. Even to ourselves, God addressed many times the following exhortation: "Do not be afraid, little flock, because I defeated the world, do not be afraid little flock, because I have beaten the evil, because I gave the Sacraments, my grace and, most of all, I gave the Eucharist, do not be afraid, little flock, because the triumph of the Eucharist will come, of the truth and your triumph".
We answer as Joseph did and abandon ourselves to God; this is the only answer.
God uses as instruments, and that's his style, humble people to confuse the arrogant. Jesus loved the hidden ways, He was born and grown up in silence. When we feel sad, crushed and tired and we feel like we don't want to achieve our mission, let's look at the sky and shout the Our Father. This prayer gives us the peace we desire, the calm we ask for and the serenity we need to push ourselves to continue working with more commitment and courage.
Both spouses, who never lost their trust in God and never sinned against the virtue of abandonment, found a complete and quiet harmony. Beautiful days passed, she was a happy lady ready to give birth and he was a man who showed his joy everyday because God reserved to him the great mission of being the Messiah's putative father. The young couple prayed so much and continuously talked about the Messiah, even if Joseph did not exactly knew when Jesus would be born. He was not curious and did not ask indiscreet questions, it was enough for him to know that Mary would become the Messiah's Mother. She was the only one to know when God's Son would be born.
Days passed and both spouses increased their joy because they were always in complete union with the Lord. The same joy should always be present with us every time we approach the Eucharist and every time we are in front of the tabernacle to manifest our faith in the real presence of Jesus.
When he was away for work reasons from his wife and God's Son present in her womb, this young man had always his thoughts on them and every time he went out or entered in the house, he got prostrated in adoration in front of Mary because he knew inside her womb was the presence of God. He preciously kept this secret, because the time for public manifestation had not arrived yet.
Mary knew that God Child should be born in Bethlehem. Joseph instead, thinking that the child would be born in Nazareth, prepared the crib for Baby Jesus which, unfortunately, was not used. In fact, as prophesized by Micah, God Child should be born in Bethlehem. Thanks to the emperor August edict, this prophecy was realized. He was a pride emperor, an excellent administrator and wanted to know how many people were under his government. The edict included also the Kingdom of Israel, which did not have a complete autonomy because it was like a vassal to the emperor's consideration. Everyone should be inscribed in his respective land of origin as the imperial edict prescribed. Mary and Joseph were both of David's lineage and should go to Bethlehem, crib of David's house. The edict prescribed only the family's chief, not the wife and Joseph felt lacerated again, suffering detachment leaving her alone or making her travel a long trip putting her under risk because she was near to give birth. God intervened again and inspired Joseph to take his wife with him. Mary was happy to travel with Joseph because she saw the realization of the divine plan. Instead, family members showed once more a strong opposition against Joseph's decisions. They accused him to be an insensible and irresponsible husband. The young couple, as it always was their style, kept silence, prayed and took the road.
This time the trip was different than the one before when they went to visit Elisabeth and Zechariah. Both spouses knew who was with them, they enjoyed, sang, prayed and contemplated the mystery of incarnation. In fact, they had conversations and abandoned themselves to the Father's plans. Mary had also conversations with her Son and Joseph did not participate in these dialogs between mother and son. They spent five or six days traveling. It was much different than pilgrimages, which should be moments of prayer, but which are often turned into occasions of entertainment and evasion. As many people think, the period of this trip was not in winter time, but in spring, a much easier season to move millions of people.
The young couple arrived to Bethlehem. We have to clarify another legend in which is said that Mary and Joseph were asking hospitality in many houses for a place to stay. Hebrew houses had only one room, during the day it was the kitchen and dinner room, during the night, the bedroom. In the same room we could see the promiscuity of many men and women sleeping together covered by simple mats. Joseph, so delicate and careful, could not accept this solution impeaching to have the necessary privacy. The Evangels do not say anything regarding this, but only: "there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2,7). Certainly, it wasn't a five-star hotel, but a place with one door and four walls, in which in the center were placed the animals and near the entrance people slept together in the most total promiscuity. Bethlehem was not surrounded by mountains, as many people could think, but simple uplands with grottos used by shepherds and their animals. Joseph found a dirty but unused grotto to stay, he cleaned up the place to receive the Mother of God with dignity. The young couple was in deep prayer attitude and Joseph, inspired by God, understood that he had stay aside from his wife for a while.
This was one of those moments in which Joseph stayed apart, because he knew that Mary should speak with God. This particular moment of strong and intimate union with God, introduced the highest and most important event of History ever. During nine months, Mary carried God Child in her womb, Who, at the moment of his birth, divided the history into two parts: Old and New Testament.
Mary describes her Son's birth this way: "Like a ray of light passing through the purest crystal without breaking it, this way my Son passed through my virginal womb".
CONCLUSIONIsaiah's passage (Isaiah 9,1-3 5-6) has a clear Messianic meaning. Isaiah's refers to the historical moment the Hebrew nation sees, more precisely Judas's tribe, in danger of being invaded by enemies. The enemies are powerful and the small kingdom of Judas cannot face this danger, they feel already oppressed and defeated and God sends the Prophet Isaiah to cheer up the people. The departure must be given from this historic event, which has divided all the history into two parts: the Old and New Testament. As the Hebrew nation is deeply troubled and worried about how to escape from this imminent danger, the same way feels the man who is plunged into the darkness of his sins which were beaten by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul says: "Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2, 6-7). In fact, Jesus had voluntarily renounced to his divine characteristics and came on Earth similar to men, but out of sin. This way, God Child was born for us. He is a little human being, a little creature apparently weak on his shoulders, but, as Isaiah says: "it is the sign of Sovereignty". He is the Admirable Advisor, the Powerful God, the Father for ever, the Prince of Peace. All these characteristics belong to the Divine Nature of the One Who, through his suffering and his death, made all of us God's children.
Now, we want to put in evidence Mary's impressive generosity. In a first time, she reserves all her attentions to the new-born Son and welcomes Him with a tender kiss. In a second time, she offers Jesus to the shepherds and this offering continues through the times every time the Holy Mass is celebrated. Mary is the one who offers the body and blood of the Son to feed souls and to ferment them. Mary is the root if the Eucharist, Christ's birth could not be possible without Mary's presence, the Eucharist could not exist without the Mother of the Eucharist. In fact, Mary forms an unquestionable binomial pair with her Son, we can't love Mary excluding Jesus, neither, love Jesus aside from Mary. As the Eucharist transformed itself into a see shell, which had bleed, which we have kept and protected as a precious pearl, this way Mary gave her womb to keep and protect God Child in full acceptation of God the Father's will.