Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Journey to Bethlehem

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on December 24, 2008

Greetings!: This is a continuation of an Advent reflection as seen from the eyes of the Mother of the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Please refer to the first post in this series: INTRODUCTION if you are a first time reader.


Note: In this as in other great mysteries of the Blessed Virgin’s life which she herself described to the mystics, quotations from her own words are printed in italics.

[Biblical Passages will follow in BOLD black print when they apply.]

Chapter 12: Journey to Bethlehem

At six o’clock on a cold, wet, mid-winter morning, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph set out from Nazareth on their journey to Bethlehem.  Mary was mounted sidesaddle on an unpretentious little donkey, and St. Joseph guided the animal with his right hand, holding his staff with his left.  Two bags hanging on the beast’s right side contained their provisions: some bread, fruit, and fish, and the linens which Mary had lovingly prepared for her baby.  Ten thousand angels marched along with them in dazzling forms visible only to their Queen.  She and St. Joseph alternated with this heavenly choir in singing canticles and hymns of praise to God.

The first evening they found themselves in a windy, uninhabited valley…St. Joseph…pitched their little tent under a great old turpentine tree near a fountain… Then they took some supper… St. Joseph was very kind to Mary, and suffered much to see her in pain.  He tried to cheer her by describing enthusiastically the excellent lodging they were sure to have in Bethlehem.

The next morning, at half past five, they went on. By noon the donkey became tired, so Mary dismounted and continued on foot.  Soon they arrived at a farm and rested a while.  After another hour’s climb through the hills, they came to a fine-looking inn comprising several buildings with gardens. Here they were received by the owner’s wife, and remained all the next day, as it was the Sabbath…

The following day they traveled over twelve miles and spent the night with some hospitable shepherds. On this trip they avoided the great, crowded caravan roads as much as possible, and also they detoured around the city of Jerusalem to the east, though this took them much longer…

The last night they spent in a large farmhouse, though the owner’s wife, who was young and conceited, treated them coldly because she was jealous of Mary’s beauty…Here St. Joseph was warned that Bethlehem was very crowded, but he replied that he had friends there and was quite sure of being well received… Mary found traveling more and more trying.  Nevertheless, knowing the secrets of the souls she met, she prayed for them and assisted the sick and afflicted by asking her holy Son to come to their aid.

They arrived at Bethlehem about four in the afternoon and made their way through the crowds to a large building where public officials were taking the census and levying taxes.  Mary rested in the court, and several women generously gave her something to eat.   St. Joseph went into a big where he was asked his name and occupation…

Later, as the sun was sinking, they began to look for lodging. While Mary waited at the end of a street, Joseph went down it from house to house, knocking at the doors of his relatives and acquaintances, but he was admitted nowhere, and in many places he met with harsh refusals and insults.  Mary…knew that the hearts and houses of men were to be closed to them… still she meekly followed her husband through the crowds.

At one end of the village they found a big tree, and under the shelter of its spreading branches Mary waited and rested for a long time… Finally, about nine o’clock, St. Joseph came back, utterly overcome, crying and trembling with heartbreaking sorrow.   Mary consoled him tenderly. Then he told her of a shepherd’s shelter outside the town. And she said:

“That will be perfectly satisfactory to me. Let us lovingly embrace poverty, dear Joseph, and go gladly wherever the Lord guides us.”

Upon entering the bare grotto which the shepherds use as a stable, they both knelt and thanked the Lord, and Mary was filled with joy at being at last in this holy place.  She immediately set about cleaning the cave with her own hands…St. Joseph…[did] likewise, and the angels helped them…they ate a frugal supper, their hearts overflowing with happiness at the thought of the impending Incarnation.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~Luke 2:1-7

[emphasis added]


Previous Posts:

Anne & Joachim
Nativity (Birth) of Mary
Infancy of Mary
Presentation/Service to the Temple
* Part I
* Part II
In The Temple
The Espousals
Preparation for the Annunciation
* Part I
* Part II
* Part III
The Annunciation

The Visitation
Trials in Nazareth


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