Mary and Joseph – reflection from Ralph Martin

From an article in Crisis by Ralph Martin:

On the way to Bethlehem – F. McDonald

“So it all begins with this mysteriously expectant young mother of the Hebrew persuasion, who, not wanting to keep the secret to herself, goes and tells Joseph, her husband. And what does he do? Well, against every instinct of outraged manhood, not to mention massive societal norms rooted in the harsh and exacting ethos of Israel, he does not turn her out, does not have her killed. Rather he renews his astonishing offer of love and protection. Go figure, as they say. (

So now there are two Christians.

And for the next thirty years there will be no apparent increase. Only with the dawn of the public life of Christ will the numbers slowly begin to grow.  Why is that? What catalyzing event causes the figures to start to swell, indeed, in a very short time, to explode? Three events, actually, conspire to produce the contagion that will soon enough sweep everything away: The compelling witness of his life; the protracted horror of his death; the climactic vindication of his resurrection.

And, really, how easy it is for us to picture those three events, around which everything suddenly comes clear. We are not so terribly different from those first disciples, Andrew or Peter or John, who so fell in with him, eating and fishing in his company, listening to his stories, drawn as if by magic to a presence that instantly compels attention. There cannot be much, humanly speaking, that they knew that we do not now know about him. And so, like them, we too reach a certain point, a threshold in the relationship we have to this man, when it becomes absolutely, commandingly clear that if we refuse to follow in his footsteps, disdaining the company of God-made-man, we consign ourselves everlastingly to a life without hope or joy or salvation. An eternity of self-inflicted loss—who could endure it?

“In the Gospel,” asks Luigi Giussani, “who was able to understand the need to trust that man? Not the crowd looking for a cure, but those who followed him and shared his life.” Who, in a word, were willing to put themselves at risk, venturing everything in the hope that the Mystery itself having entered their human history, they could not lose, their lives would surely be saved.”

And he also relates some words of St. John of the Cross: “in the evening of our lives, we will be judged on love.” May I be judged as one who loves!