Friday, October 20, 2006


Have you ever been hurt by someone you love? I suppose you have. Most of us have had the experience of being hurt by someone who loves us. It doesn’t take much. Someone who loves us is able to hurt us much more deeply than someone who doesn’t love us. An action or a word that could have been ignored if it had come from another person is not easy to ignore or to forget.

Suddenly we find questions in our hearts and minds. We find an ache that will not easily go away. We think our questions have been put to one side, and then they start all over again. We try to search for a reason why the hurt has been inflicted upon us. The more we love the one who has hurt us, the more we struggle to find a reasonable explanation for their behaviour. It is all the harder if we cannot find that reasonable explanation.

When I was nursing in London, I remember looking after a man who had been beaten by his son. The man’s tongue was very badly cut and the bleeding was profuse. The son had been looking for money for drugs. His father had refused to give him the money he wanted.

Time and again the man said that the real hurt was not the physical wounds his son had caused. The real wound was in his heart, where we couldn’t see. The real injury was the knowledge that his own son could beat his father.

Joseph must have also felt very hurt when he realised that Mary was pregnant and that the baby in her womb was not his. There must have been so many questions he would have asked. Why did she do this to him who loved her so much? How could Mary be unfaithful? How could someone who seemed to be so good seem to have done something so wrong?

Joseph did not know what to do. He was a normal man. He didn’t want to marry a girl who was pregnant with someone else’s child. What sort of marriage would it be?

Yet Joseph knew that if he made public the fact that Mary was not pregnant by him, she would be stoned to death. Could Joseph bear to see the woman he loved being insulted by the people of Nazareth? Could he see her put on trial? Could he watch everybody drag her to the execution site and throw rocks at her until she was killed and her beautiful body broken beyond all recognition?

No. Joseph was an honourable man. He was a good man. That is why, of all the men throughout history, God chose him to be the protector of Mary and Jesus. Joseph must have been so grateful to the angel who appeared and told him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him. He must have felt so humbled when he gradually began to realise that there was something very special about this baby. He must have felt very inadequate when he realised the importance of the vocation God had given him. He must have thought many times that God was choosing a strange way in which to save the world. God had chosen a village girl and a carpenter to be the family to which he would send his Son. What a strange way to save the world!

Lord, it’s not always easy to see your plans for my life. Sometimes, when situations cause me pain, I find it hard to accept that you are helping me to grow towards you. I find it difficult that you are leading me to fulfil the vocation you gave me. Help me to be like Joseph. Help me to trust you and be faithful to your plans for me. Amen