- Posted by Lin Wilder
- On December 24, 2013
- 0 Comments
- a search for the sacred, catholicism, catholocism, christian, forgiveness, god, sacred, thinking, writing
Pope John Paul called his first published book as Pope, A Sign Of Contradiction after the prophecy of Simeon to the new parents of the God child, Jesus. But during these last few days as we approach Christmas, the day when we celebrate the incarnation, I cannot dismiss this phrase because it seems so completely integrated with the means by which God chose to enter time. It was a means which could not be more puzzling, more filled with paradox and humiliation for the two people whom He chose, far different from the peaceful manger scenes so widely depicted.
The Christian liturgy explains how the Holy Family came to be in words which are veiled but quite clearly suggestive of gossip- there is no other word for what must have taken place.
We are told that Joseph has received information about his virginal espoused wife; information that is so damning that this just man decides to quietly divorce her in hopes that he can spare her the death by stoning that would occur to an adulterous woman.
These were very small communities where most of the villagers knew one another, where the pace was slow – slow in the sense that other neighbors had adequate opportunity to attend to the affairs of others…and to talk with one another about them…particularly when those affairs are salacious.
Surely, the observations made by the expert midwives of the village about the pregnancy of Joachim and Anne’s daughter Mary would have been cause for extended and repeated conversations; conversations which eventually reached Joseph’s ears. Explicitly, we are told that before they lived together, Mary was found with child by unnamed others. And Joseph, the just man is fully aware of the fate of Mary in the culture of their time.
We can only imagine the cost to the man as he makes his decision about her, about the circumstances which have led to her pregnancy and the number of voices taking pleasure in the bad news of others, just as today so many of us do the same.
We cannot conceive of any words she could have used to explain to him or to any others.
What could she have said?
Who would have believed her?
Why did He choose this way of appearing in our world?