Day Six: Joseph Did Not Understand

Doris Hutton Auxier Entretemps: Before Joseph's Dream . Graphite on Paper 2005 17" x 22"  Used with permission all rights reserved.

From CIVA Exhibition: Highly Favored: Contemporary Images Of The Virgin Mary

Mary was an unwed pregnant teen in a society where such a predicament could bring a public execution. Mary was in trouble.  And she was in trouble because she was in the middle of God’s will.


Joseph might not marry her now that she was pregnant.  That had to be faced.  Who would believe that she hadn’t been unfaithful to her engagement vows?  Everyone would naturally think that she was in this mess because of sin.  And we do the same thing.  We see somebody in trouble and we wonder what they did to deserve God’s punishment.  Now, Mary could have responded in a number of ways.  It would have been so easy for her to respond with debilitating fear.  Fear for her life and fear for her reputation; fear that seeps darkly into the soul and freezes into inaction.  She might have responded with blame.  She could have blamed herself, or her society.  “It’s unfair!” 


I have to think that she was tempted to blame God—he was the one who put her into this difficult spot, after all.  But all of these responses would have kept her from doing what she needed to do.  They keep us from doing what we need to do.  In situations like this, there is only one place to go; one person to turn to.  God.

  O King of the nations, you are the headstone of the glorious hall of creation.  You are the firm mortar which holds the building together.  Throughout the earth people marvel at your works.  But now the building is being reduced to a ruin by greed and fear.  Reveal yourself to mankind, show yourself as the ruler of the world, demonstrate the power of your love.
     O just and faithful King, you can unlock the prison-house of sin, and let us out into the glorious freedom of love.  Now we sit in darkness, grieving over the wrongs we have committed.  We long for the sun, we yearn for the warmth and brightness of your truth.  Open the gate of this prison, and lead us to your kingdom, which is our true home.
     Come now, high king of heaven.  Come to us in flesh and bone.  Bring life to us who are weary with misery.  Bring peace to us who are overcome with weeping, whose cheeks are covered with bitter salt tears.  Seek us out, who are lost in the darkness of depression.  Do not forget us, but show mercy on us.  Impart to us your everlasting joy, so that we, who are fashioned by your hands, may praise your glory.


—The Exeter Book, a tenth-century collection of Anglo-Saxon religious poems *