Saturday, December 17, 2016

FROM NAZARETH TO BETHLEHEM

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Saturday, 8 days before the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were most likely making preparations to leave tomorrow or the next day to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The distance between the two is approximatel 70 miles. In those days, the rich would have traveled by chariot. The poor, like Joseph and Mary, would either walk or travel by donkey. Ceaser Augustus had declared a census, so it was imperative that they go to Bethlehem. Mary was in the very late stages of her pregnancy with our Savior, but she could not avoid having to make the commanded census by Ceaser Augustus.

Instead of taking the shortest route of 70 miles through Samaria, Joseph decided to go 20 miles out of their way because the terrain of Samaria was very rugged and would have proved much more difficult for Mary. Who knows? If she had traveled that way, she might have birthed Jesus someplace between Nazarene and Bethlehem. Additionally, they could possible run into hostile Samaritans, so taking a southern route that was 20 miles further was not only more comfortable (if you ladies can imagine being comfortable a week before giving birth - no way!) and they would avoid any difficulaties with the Samaritans. Also, being very poor, it was highly unlikely that they would find a place to stay the night.

Even traveling a different and longer route, it was still fairly rough terrain to walk. It is unknown for sure that Mary rode the donkey. Perhaps she walked some and rode some. But bottom line, it was a trip that was between 4 and 7 FULL DAYS of walking, which we know Joseph walked the entire way.

Friends,, I have this journey on my mind and I am certain that I am going to think of Mary and Joseph's trek to Bethlehem all week, up until our Savior is born on Christmas Day. My heart aches for Mary's discomfort. They both may have been shoeless or at the most, crude, handmade sandals which did nothing but to keep the sharp rock from cutting their feet. They had to stay 4-6 nights along their travels because they were to travel about 90 miles all total.

Image result for mary and joseph travel to bethlehem

Certainly, God was with them. He was watching over his only Son who would be born very soon and I'm certain that God would not allow any ill circumstances to confront the couple.

This week, put the very pregnant Mary and her husband, Joseph, into your prayers and thoughts. They were so brave. But then, that was all they knew so to them, that was how it was done in that time of history.

We sometimes, or many times, take for granted those wonderful epidurals that women receive when birthing a child. They still have to "push", but there is no pain. Then compare our Blessed Mother's experience. Walking and riding a donkey for 90 miles! Think of a place 90 miles from where you live and imagine yourself walking the entire distance!

We are so fortunate to have our Blessed Mother seated at the right hand of her Son, Jesus Christ, in heaven. She went through so very much to birth this baby and was extremely protective of him as he was growing up. She knew he was the Son of God, but I don't think even she realized what his demise would be.

But we are thinking and praising happiness that we have a Savior who died for our sins and secured our Salvation! Remember, you will not get to heaven without going through Jesus, so therefore, he will be the first to judge you! And you might find yourself asking the Blessed Mother about her journey to the census where she also birthed our Savior. What a beautiful, joyful thought! And one day, we will share in praise of God and Jesus when we get to heaven.

Be good, be kind, be happy, be nice, avoid obvious sinning, just live a life for Jesus and there will be no question that you will live eternally in the place that God created for all of us - it is PARADISE!

Lovingly in Jesus,
ABBEY

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