Time after time Joseph hears, “No Room,” “Sorry full up,” “All full,” “Not even one place left,” “NO ROOM!”
How he must have felt. Here he was, entrusted with the care of the Mother and the Baby from heaven and he could not even insure a roof over their heads!
His heart wrung with pain at having failed to provide as a father is destined to do, Joseph must have not even felt a glimmer of hope when a kindly innkeeper, after announcing there was no room, told him of a stable, a cave nearby where they would at least have some privacy. Joseph led the donkey, carrying its precious load, to the stable.
Hastily Joseph prepared a makeshift reclining place for Mary, using straw stored in the stable.
As Mary reclined, Joseph looked for a place to put the Baby, the Messiah, the King to be born. Mary would need to rest and the baby would need a place to sleep. The only safe place would be the feeding trough, the manger left to feed the animals usually stalled there. But could he put the Son of God in an animal’s feeder? Reluctantly he filled the manger with straw, which he crushed to make it softer, and laid the cloth Mary had prepared for the birth.
Standing at the entrance to the cave, Joseph prayed:
“Lord, I have failed already to care well for Mary and your Son. I tried, but I could not do what they needed. I will have to put your Son in a trough! I wish there were a way I could make up for my failures. O Lord, how can I do what you gave me to do? I am only a poor carpenter, God, a carpenter and poor! How do I raise a KING?”
And as Joseph wiped away a tear, the cry of a newborn baby broke the stillness. “He is here! Mary?!” She smiled as Joseph took the baby boy in his hands and laid Him in the place he had so recently prepared. Little heed was paid to the trough. Only the Child mattered. And Joseph had his answer. He knew what he could do. He could be Protector, Guide, and Father. And his heart sang as it had never sung before.
If you ever feel inadequate for the task put before you, if you thought it was impossible for you to do, pray to St. Joseph. He knows what that feels like. And what you had to do was certainly not as earth shaking as what Joseph was assigned to do.
Maybe if we look at the Christmas crib, we will be able to see more than the sweet picture put before us. Perhaps we can see the pathos of Joseph, as he prepared a feeding trough in which to lay the Son of God! May we note how Jesus did become food for us all! I believe the lowly stable and trough, however, made it easier for the poor shepherds to approach, when they were the first to see the Newborn King. How can we make it easier for the poor, the lonely, and the despised, to approach us? Do we even try to approach them? Moreover, do we see the ordinary things of life as stepping-stones to eternity?
Peace and Blessings this Holy Christmas,