Ave Maria Meditations
St. Joseph’s Second Sorrow: The Journey to Bethlehem
When St. Joseph started from his cottage at Nazareth, to repair to Bethlehem according to the Emperor’s command, he had every reason to expect that he would be well received. His early youth had been spent there, and he must have been known to many of the inhabitants. But when he arrived there, a sad surprise awaited him. No room in the caravanserai or guest-house. No room in any of the cottages where he applied for admission. Everywhere a refusal. No room for him; no room for his spotless spouse. It is always painful to meet with a cold reception among those who we expect will welcome us.
It was not for his own sake that Joseph grieved. He was accustomed to be treated ill. He had learnt to welcome it for God’s sake. But to witness the distress caused to his holy spouse, ah, this was hard! It is far more painful to witness suffering in those we love than to feel it ourselves. Could Joseph do nothing to find shelter for Mary in her delicate and critical condition? Every resource had failed him; he could only pray and wait.
At last a thought occurred to him. He remembered a cave where some animals were kept; small, low, dirty, unfit for human habitation. Here at least she would be safe from the pinching cold, here they could remain in peace. How could he propose it to her? Was this the sort of treatment to be accorded to the Mother of God? Yes, it must be so, and Joseph submitted to the holy will of God.