+JMJ+ Our Catholic Book of the Month for May is something a little different this time, something you can’t buy. Not yet, anyway. I’m working on a couple of books. One of them is a Rosary book, the other is a work of fiction based on the Gospels and some other sources. What follows here is a little exploration in imagination (and more of a vignette than a story at this point) that came to me when I sat down to write tonight’s post. I invite you to take a walk with me through the Gospels, at least part of them, in this month of May, the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I don’t know where we’re going, I only have a glimmer of an idea at this point. We’ll see what happens and where we end up. It will be a surprise for you and for me. Join me on the journey, won’t you? And remember, this is a draft for a draft for a draft for a draft, and is likely to change a LOT before it gets published as an ebook. It’ll have to! ;) Proceed at your own risk. You have been warned. ;)
The house that Joseph built for Mary and Jesus was a humble one, hewn of rock in the side of a hill overlooking the valley. I can see it now as I think back to those days when I would visit Nazareth with my father as a child. Nothing about the house itself stood out but the love that was felt from within it (though I did not think of it that way at the time, how life changes us). The house was not shabby though it was not in the well-to-do part of town. Outside and within spoke nothing of wealth but only simpleness. The furniture was simple yet sturdy. The walls, cut stone. No finery was to be seen, nor was there any hidden away.
Joseph and his foster son Jesus made good wages for the work they did, but they gave away most of it. (My father told me about him. I may have met the man but I don’t have any memory of him.) The mother did not complain for she gave away most of what was left to the poor who came to the door, which they did often. And Jesus always seemed to find someone to bring home for a meal at the end of the long day’s work. Still, even with so little to call their own, the family seemed happy to share.
Father and son worked at the quarry nearby until the father’s death. Then one day when he was fully grown the son surprised everyone (well, almost everyone) and gave away his few possessions and set out on his way.
His mother stayed at the house a little longer, remembering every smile, every peal of laughter, every bruised knee, every tear wiped away—every moment she treasured. She gave away the little that was left in the home that had seen her husband grow old and pass on, had seen her son grow up and grow strong and set out at last on his own. Then she said goodbye and she, too, set out on her way.
And through it all she remained filled with steadfast in her faith that the Lord would take care of her. Oh, and she remained generous to a degree I have never encountered in another other than her son.
I could not understand, could not comprehend this when first I met them. Still can’t. How could they be the way they were, live the way they lived? A few days ago I asked the rabbi a question that has bothered me for some time now. His answer troubles me, but at the same time I am drawn to him and his followers. They have something I want. I do not know what to call it. As for me, I have everything I want, but they have something for which I have no word. Maybe it is joy. And hope. Hope in what? I do not know. What is the source of their joy? Again, I do not know. I asked him how he and his followers could be so filled with so much joy that it seems to overflow onto others, even onto one such as myself, not given to great emotion or frivolity, and he said to me, Come and see.
But he also told me to give away everything I own and sell it to give to the poor, and then come and see. As if I don’t already do that. I follow the Law, I told him that. The Law requires that I give tzedekah. But the Law does not require me to give them everything. Why should I do that? I have family obligations and they come first, everybody knows that. And I have the family business to tend to, I’m the oldest, it’s expected. And, if I’m honest, I like the respect with which others treat me wherever I go as a man of my position.
But in the midst of my pride I am haunted by the sight of the good rabbi who has little more than the simple garments he is wearing, and his gentle mother who raised such a son, and both of them with hardly anything of their own. And both of them filled with something I want more than anything.
Thank you for visiting and reading my experiment. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy during this Easter season, and most of all, become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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