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It took only a few days to travel from Judea to Egypt, to the great port city of Alexandria, where they found lodging, sustenance and work.
Joseph and Mary raised up their son with the usual joys and concerns of any parent. They experienced his first word, which, by the way, was, oddly, Woman. They watched him take his first steps at exactly one year from his birth. As baby Jesus suckled at her breast Mary wondered at the words of the Angel Gabriel when he said “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. ”
Her son, Jesus? Son of God? This baby? This boy whose diapers need changing? This boy who cried day and night when his teeth came in?
Mary’s memory went back to the night of Jesus’ birth. They were alone so Joseph had to help her birth the child. And then those unusual shepherds came saying they had seen angels, angels, angels of the Lord. They certainly described a vivid and terrifying experience, that if it was anything like what they told, it would have been frightening indeed. If it didn’t happen at all like they said, it would have been some game they were playing! Shepherds leaving their sheep? Not likely!
But this baby, as soon as he learned to sit up by himself, had begun rocking back and forth as if in prayer. He would do this for hours, contentedly, and sometimes babble away in conversation with some unseen person. Sometimes he would be perfectly silent and at other times he would shriek with joy. But he would always keep his eye on what his mother was doing.
When he became able to help his father Joseph with his work, he took great interest in wood. He could sit for long periods of time almost lovingly buffing or sanding the things his father made and he could do it in a way that brought out the natural beauty of the wood, showing its grain to best effect. Joseph would remark that he was a ‘born-carpenter’.
Joseph took Jesus at six years of age to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Great Lighthouse at the port of Alexandria. They marveled at the wonder of these structures, but Joseph said, “If you think this is great, wait until you see the Temple in Jerusalem!”
“The Temple!” exclaimed little Jesus. He looked to the east, in the direction of Jerusalem and a tear formed in his eye
Once back in Nazareth, all of this goodness was tempered by the whispered slurs of their neighbors. This family’s happiness was envied by the neighbors, neighbors who got it in their heads that this family of Joseph, Mary and son Jesus was somehow undeserving.
Even though the neighbors couldn’t quite put their fingers on it, something was different. Joseph was going to divorce that girl, wasn’t he? That’s what I heard. For some infidelity? And then apparently he changes his mind and takes her anyway? Why did he change his mind? Who is the boy’s real father? So they go to the census, Bethlehem, I hear, and after that they go to Egypt? A foreign country! No, he wasn’t born in Nazareth, but in Bethlehem. What was that all about? And those awful stories about children being killed by Herod! Maybe this boy isn’t even the one that Mary birthed! Maybe he’s a gypsy!!
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