THE HEART OF MARY
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE HOLY FAMILY
CHAPTER I: "I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST"
BIRTH OF CHRIST
THE CHILD JESUS IN ALEXANDRIA OF THE NILE
Soon after these things, Joseph the Carpenter and his brother-in-law Cleophas took their families, took tickets and embarked for Alexandria of the Nile.
On this matter of the Flight there has always hung the mystery. Documentarily speaking, the truth is that there is no evidence anywhere that Alexandria of the Nile was the place chosen by Joseph to save the son of Mary from the persecution against him decreed by Herod. So if I am pressed, the author of this History can be accused of inventing to cover literary needs the destiny of the fugitives. Which seems logical to me to a certain extent. I myself cannot forget that the classical iconography in this regard is quite terse, even prudent I would say; and I would even dare to confess that of a prudence bordering on cowardice.
The choice of Alexandria of the Nile was not fortuitous on the part of Joseph; nor is it fortuitous on the part of the one who recreates in these pages his movements. Fortunately or unfortunately, the only proof I can provide is the testimony of God in this case. Unfortunately is a figure of speech, of course. For those who know God, a single word from him is worth more than all the speeches of all the wise men of the universe put together in endless dissertations. Unfortunately, the word of God is not worth to everyone.
The fact is that the only real proof that history offers us is the testimony of God, that "out of Egypt I called my son".
Before me there have been many who have put their hands in the fire in defense of the affirmative answer that the question deserves. From the apocryphal distances of those who do not believe, however, there are two invincible objections against whose bomb-proof walls our rhetoric splits its head. One is that “from Egypt I called my Son” was written long before any of the events we narrate had yet taken place, so that to stop to believe that centuries and centuries before the Birth the Flight had already been configured to enter into the messianic program, in truth, is too much to believe.
The other objection is that this foresight note was not written "a futuriori" but a posteriori. According to these geniuses it would not be the first time that the Jews falsified their sacred texts. Hadn't they been doing it for centuries? Nineveh fell and they came to write on its ruins that they had already said so. And like Nineveh all the other things. Also the prophet Daniel saw the coming to power of Cyrus the Great. And even the fall of his empire under the hoofs of the horse of Alexander the Great. By God, whom did they want to deceive? Is there a more foolish nation than the one that deceives itself?
Anyway, this posture of creating prophetic texts a posteriori gained many followers in its glory days. Passing over its cunning, as is natural to those who have been immunized against the cunning of geniuses, the others, those of us who continue to maintain the divine value of the prophetic texts, continue to maintain that such ways of thinking would be logical in an ancient thinker, because to pretend to adjust the Creator's thinking to that of the creature, which is what is done by denying divine omniscience as the source of the Scriptures, is to deny that which separates the creature from its Creator.
At the level of contest it is true that some men see the future. In the stars, in dice, in coffee grounds, and above all in a bullet with a name written on it. At the level of reality, the confession of human nature is far from granting itself such an attribute.
This on the one hand.
On the other, is it not true that history is written by the victors? Well, if so, something must be wrong with the system when we see it written by a people of losers. They lost to the Egyptians, or does anyone still believe that one can go from freedom to slavery without fighting a terrible battle? They fought the Assyrians and lost the war. They were crushed again by Nebuchadnezzar's Chaldeans. They lost to Rome. Curious, very curious that the historical memory of half the planet is based on the war exploits of the losing people par excellence, the Jews!
I would say that History writes itself as God uses man's hand as a pen. He dips the pen in our blood and writes our future according to his clairvoyance, omniscience, prescience and creative genius. In other words, we do not see the future, but God not only sees it but also writes it. Now, if this divine capacity to create the Future is not admitted, then we will have to accept the nature of the events themselves, or run the risk of closing this History and opening a totally different book.
Thus, the farewell was very brief. The Devil's Wolf had smelled the Child.
Safe in Egypt, Joseph the Carpenter opened his workshop far from the Jewish Quarter, in the Free City. Over the years his came to be called The Jew's Carpenter's Shop.
On this point - the event of the Slaughter of the Innocents - I say the same thing. If the doubt is recreated in the impossibility of the existence of someone capable of committing such a crime, then we can take the doubt and throw it in the trash. If on the contrary it is in the ignorance of the peoples and their people, speaking of the social and political circumstances lived by the kingdom of Israel for the dates, in this case nothing can be added to what is written, perhaps only to say that it is not explained how being happiness in ignorance having so many ignorant in the world can the world continue to be so brilliantly unhappy.
But let's get back to the point.
Was it an easy decision for Joseph to have to repack and emigrate to Egypt?
Perhaps it was not an easy decision, but it was a courageous one.
The story of the Adoration of the Magi opens our minds to the past and depicts the Holy Family fleeing to the second largest city in the world, Alexandria on the Nile, an open and cosmopolitan city where Joseph and his family arrived with their backs covered economically speaking. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were the gifts the Magi gave him.
Why Alexandria of the Nile and not Rome?
Well, Alexandria was a stone's throw from the shores of Israel. The Slaughter of the Innocents perpetrated, the murder of Zacharias, father of the Baptist, consummated, the last thing Joseph could afford was to endanger the life of the Child. In fact, between the time of the Nativity and his presentation in the Temple, the days had passed; it was then or never. Return to Nazareth, pack up, take the boat from Haifa and say goodbye to the homeland.
This decision of Joseph, forced by the bloody circumstances, changed the man in a total way. Among the Holy Innocents the sons of his brothers fell into the trap. The man who from the deck of the ship carrying the Holy Family to Alexandria looked at the horizon, alone, with his back to everyone, carried in his chest hidden that secret, which he would not discover to his people until death. When he landed on the Egyptian coast the Joseph of before the Slaughter and the murder of Zacharias had sunk in the waters of the Mediterranean.
The farther away from him the better. The reason for this total change was not given to anyone, neither to his wife, nor to his brother-in-law.
And we are already in Alexandria of the Nile.
The environment in which Jesus grew up thanks to the strange behavior of his father with his own was extraordinary. Joseph, his father, refused to settle in the Jewish Quarter; he preferred to look for a place among the Gentiles, in the heart of the Free City. He bought a house and opened his workshop. In time, his shop became known as the Jew's Carpentry Shop.
The Child's aunt and uncle, Cleophas and Mary of Cleophas, continued to bring children into the world.
Clever as he was, as soon as Jesus caught up with his cousin James, even though James was two years older than he was, Jesus took him with him to the Roman port. The Child did not cut anyone short; his thirst for news of the Empire was never consumed. His intelligence to hear news of Rome, of Athens, of Hispania, of Gaul, of India, of deep Africa aroused sympathy in the sea dogs. They looked at the two children from top to bottom, they saw them wearing the clothes of upper class children, and there they told Jesus and his cousin James how the world was going.
Thanks to this natural at the age of twelve the Child spoke perfectly Latin, Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew and Aramaic. I insist: or do you believe that they looked for an interpreter for the audience with Pilate?
That said, Jesus was a child prodigy in every sense of the word. A child prodigy who had the good fortune to have an extraordinary man for a father. However, also the phenomena feel, suffer, have moments of weakness, are saddened, mourn the loneliness that overwhelms them.
THE MUTE DOVE OF THE DISTANT LANDS
Jesus sank. That divine Child who used to turn the children of the whole street upside down, would go away, get lost among the ships in the harbor and come back running to sit on his father's lap among his friends at dusk; that earthquake of a Child sank. Jesus stopped leaving the house. He began to sit in the doorway of the Jew's carpentry shop to watch life go by. The Child hardly ate. Jesus would drop into his mother's lap among her friends, when in the evening the women used to sit in the street, under the Mediterranean sky, to sew, to chat, and he would leave.
It was as if that flame of the Sacred Bush was burning away in Maria's arms. At first she did not notice the loneliness that had opened a black hole in her Child's chest and swallowed him up a little more each day. Little by little the Mother opened her eyes and began to see what was in the Heart of her Child.
She could not suffer the indescribable agony that was taking her Child from her hands. She loved Him more than the world, more than time, more than the waves of the sea, more than the stars, more than love, more than her own life. And he was leaving her. It was night after night and every night a little more. The Child did not speak, he did not laugh, he let himself fall on his Mother's breast, his eyes lost in the sky of that Alexandria of the Nile, and there he sank.
-What is the matter, my son, she asked him.
-Nothing, Mary, he answered.
-I know what's wrong with you, Jesus.
-It's nothing, Mary, really.
-My darling, you miss your Father. Don't cry, my darling. He is here, right now, when I put my lips on your cheeks He kisses you, when I embrace you He squeezes you.
For the Child, that woman who listened to Him with the sweetest smile in the universe on her face while He spoke to him of the Paradise of his Father, of the City of his Father, of his brothers, the super angels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, that woman...that woman was his Mother. He loved her more than everything in the world. She was the only person he could tell all things to. He loved to feel the beating of her heart when she told him about her Kingdom. And that luminous look that illuminated his face when she told him the whole truth! It never faded from his memory.
-Yes, Mary, said the Child to her, I am Him.
-Tell me again what Heaven is like, my son. She asked him again.
-Heaven, the Child confessed, is like an island that has become a continent, and continues to grow on the other side of its horizons. The Rock on which it has its foundations is the highest Mount that any man can imagine. The Mount of God, Zion, raises its summit to the clouds, but where the clouds should be there are twelve walls, each of a single block, each block of a color, each wall shining as if it had a sun within it. And they are like twelve suns illuminating the same firmament. The twelve walls are one wall surrounding the City they contain. God called this mount Zion. There the gods have their dwelling place, and among the gods my Father has his house. From the walls of the city of God the confines of Heaven are lost in the horizon that borders the ortho on the other side of the borders of Paradise.
You see, Heaven is like a marvelous mirror reflecting the History of the peoples who inhabit it. For example, this world, the Earth. You collect the memories of your ancestors in your books; but Heaven records it live, because what is reflected on the surface of the Universe materializes on the surface of Heaven. So if you set out to tour the Abode of men in my Father's Paradise you will find that all the Ages of Man are collected in its geography. When you go to Heaven you will see with your eyes that all kinds of animals and birds and trees and plants and mountains and valleys that have once been here Below exist forever there Above.
As my Father has created other Worlds, and will continue to create more, Heaven is a Paradise filled with wonders that never end. To travel the whole of it you would have to spend an eternity walking, and every step of the way would be an adventure. How do I explain it to you? My Father sows life in the stars. The stars of the Universe are like the ocean that surrounds the island, and also this ocean of constellations grows, extending its shores to the rhythm of the borders of Heaven. Life is made into a tree, and my Father and I gather it into our Paradise to live forever. The species of animals and birds have no number. A great river rises on the heights of the Mount of God, and divides in the plain into branches that cover all the Worlds and their territories. Do you see all the stars? Heaven is higher.
-From there have you come, my Son?
-I tell you, Mary.
THE CARPENTER’S SHOP OF THE JEW
The Child told Mary many things. He told her so many things that the poor immigrant woman had no more room left in her head and had to begin to keep them in her heart. If I were to tell you all of them, I would probably sit there until next year, and that's not the plan.
What I can tell you is what you already know. You know that the Holy Family returned to their homeland when they were ten years old or earlier. But you do not know what happened to them so that the good Joseph and his brother-in-law Cleophas took the decision to sell the Carpentry of the Jew, a business but very prosperous, wind in stern and full sail, cut the sea, do not sail, fly, and so on.
The Carpentry of the Jew was in the middle of the City. In those days there was only one real city in the whole orb. It was Alexandria of the Nile. Rome was the largest military headquarters in the world. In Rome lived the imperial senators. But it was in Alexandria of the Nile that all the wise men of the Empire were to be found. We can say that Alexandria was the New York of those days. In Washington there is the power, but in New York there is the money. A relationship of this nature was the one that Alexandria had with Rome.
Why then did they have to return? And just then that the business was going well? To return to what? To survive like the fly in the spider's house? There was food for thought. A business that is less than ten years old is like the kid who is starting to grow a mustache. It is from his eyes that the world gets the least faults. The world may be as bad as you want it to be, but he, the kid, is a champion. Anyway, it was not nonsense. It had cost Joseph and his brother-in-law a lot to get ahead, to make their way, to find a place, and a big place among the Gentiles, because Joseph did not want to know anything or very little of his compatriots. In this chapter Joseph was a very strange Jew. He did not want to know much of his countrymen, nor did he like to have them too close. No one knew why, nor did he talk much. It would be because Joseph spoke Latin and Greek from a very young age and seemed to find himself among the Gentiles like a fish in the water.
It must be said that Joseph's mastery of the two languages of the Empire opened his way in the business world. Unlike his fellow countrymen, racists with everyone, who believed themselves to be a superior, chosen race, and looked down on the rest of the human race, Joseph was an open, intelligent, not very talkative, but his every word was that of a man who would not break his word for anything in the world.
How a provincial carpenter-cabinet maker, escaped from a village lost in the sierras, had managed to master to such an extent the two international languages of the moment, in truth, was another mystery!
Another among the many that made the owner of the Carpentry of the Jew a creature sui generis, introverted, indefinable. His compatriots in Alexandria criticized Joseph precisely because of his distance from the company of his own.
Contrary to Joseph, Cleophas, Mary's brother, was very much of his own land and was very much in favor of his own people. This balanced the scales and kept the House's relations with the nationalists in equilibrium. On occasion, between brothers-in-law and partners, Cleophas brought up the subject of their estrangement and the reasons for such an immovable position. But Joseph would always find a way to drag the matter out.
Joseph did not impose anything on his brother-in-law; he was free to educate his children according to his heart; he would not forbid his children to go to the synagogue and participate in the life of the Jewish community fulfilling their duties as a good son of Abraham. Only that the same freedom that Joseph offered him he wanted for himself.
At this way of reasoning Cleophas laughed and dropped the subject. For if she asked her sister Mary about her husband's strange behavior, she would not go any further.
The same enigma that caused Cleophas this way of being of Joseph had Mary surprised since they left the homeland. And Cleophas was not to believe that she was hiding anything from him. Joseph was as good as a loaf of bread, but when it came to opening his heart, not even to his own wife would he say a word.
All in all, Cleophas and his wife had already given birth to a whole troop at the height of this chapter. Joseph and Mary, however, had remained with the first and the last, firstborn and only begotten in one person.
-What is it, brother, Cleophas wanted to know, why are you in such a hurry to sell a ship that is going downwind?
Joseph did not want to tell his brother-in-law the whole truth, or at least the truth as he lived it.
THE RETURN TO NAZARETH
The Child overcame that sadness that almost plunged him into the darkness of infinite sorrow. His Mother put herself between the Child and that unknowable darkness, called her Husband to her aid and between them they drove the devil out of hell. But they had not forgotten the battle when the Child opened a new chapter in their lives. Jesus was already nine or ten years old. It had gotten into the Child's head to leave Egypt and be taken to Israel.
You can understand why Joseph was very angry. His wife was for her child. Logical. For Mary there was no problem. But for Joseph things were not so simple.
Of course Joseph had heard the Divine Story from the lips of Jesus in the arms of his Mother. And precisely for that reason now less than ever he could afford to make a wrong decision. As long as he did not know whom he had at home the problem seemed controlled; but now that he knew the identity of Mary's Son he could now less than ever afford the indecision he had when he laughed a little at the advice of the Magi.
“Go, Joseph, or the Herods will kill him”, they begged him.
Return to Israel while Herod the Younger is alive?
Joseph replied to his wife: “Tell your son that the time has not come”.
Words gone with the wind.
-Tell your husband that I must be about my Father’s business, the Child insisted.
Answer that the wind brought.
-Mary, for God's sake, he is a child. Nobody moves from here. At least until that son of Satan dies.
Ona and off. Joseph was like that. Very few words, but when he said them, there was no one in the world who could make him give his arm to twist.
And they could have stayed that way all their lives if the Child had not put his plan into action. I will not get lost in the details, but what is certain is that the son of the Carpenter uncorked the bottle of his prodigious intelligence and enjoyed like a child getting lost with the champagne of his glory to the rabbi of his synagogue.
-The list of the kings? The one before the Flood or the one after the Flood, Mr. Rabbi?
A prodigy. He knew it all. The astonished rabbi ended up taking a deep interest in the child.
-And whose son are you, child?
-I am the son of David, Rabbi.
-Is your father the son of David?
-And so is my mother, Rabbi.
-And your mother too? What a curious thing!
-And so is my cousin here, Rabbi.
"You sure are a rabbi" thought the man to himself.
So one fine day the rabbi came into the Jew's carpentry shop and asked Joseph to explain himself. As if he was entitled to something for being a servant of the servants of God.
Joseph looked him up and down and put him in the street. And in front of the Child himself. Because, of course, all this mess was the Child's doing.
You will understand that after the scare he got when the Birth, Joseph was forbidden in his house the least mention of the Davidic origins of his family. And if the case arose, his Davidic origins were to be escaped as one who is not willing to put his hand in the fire. Yes they were; but who knows; their parents told them they were and they were not going to argue with their parents' authority.
The Boy was breaking this Family law. And he was doing it with perfect knowledge. He knew, because he knew Joseph as if he were his brother, his friend, his father, that as soon as Joseph detected the slightest danger that would endanger the life of the Son of Mary, Joseph would close the business and migrate elsewhere.
Joseph had passed the first round. But the second was yet to come.
The Child was back in business. Not only was he the son of David, his mother was the Daughter of Solomon.
-Yes, Mr. Rabbi. The Daughter of Solomon herself.
-And you say that your father can prove this with papers on the table?
The rabbi who had the good fortune or misfortune to have him as a student got stiff antennae. Confused, lost, the astonished rabbi took the subject to the chief rabbi.
-What I'm telling you", he said, "If it were any other child, I would take it as a joke, but I believe everything about the son of the Carpenter. He knows more than all the wise men in Solomon's court put together. Including the wise king”, with these words the rabbi of Jesus went to his boss.
And they both showed up one fine day at the Jew's carpentry shop ready to get to the bottom of the matter.
They went to Joseph. They went to demand that he show them the documents the Child had been telling them about. Jesus had told them that his father kept the genealogical documents of the Family, documents dating back to the days of King David himself, reissued by the prophet Daniel during the days of the Babylonian Captivity.
Joseph suddenly found himself facing a masterful checkmate move. The Son of Mary was playing hardball. He wanted to take them all to Jerusalem and nothing and no one was going to stop him.
The discussion Joseph had with the two rabbis was very strong. I will not try to reproduce it so as not to create the impression that I am recalling fantastic events.
-The impression that the Son of Mary made on his preceptors was so huge that they had given faith to the word of a little boy... blablabla. The Carpenter said to them.
If they had known him they would have understood that for Joseph to affirm was to say the last word.
Joseph had it very clear. The Son of Mary could be the Son of God in person, but it was up to him, to Joseph, to whom his Father had given his Custody, and it was up to him, and only him, Joseph, to decide when the Holy Family would return to Israel.
Could it be the Son of God?
Could it only be...?
"What are you thinking, Joseph?"
The rabbis thought they had the Carpenter cornered, and even the Child himself who listened behind the door came to believe it. Words like swords in a duel to the death were being crossed when the Child leaned out of the door with the air of the victor who asks his fallen enemy, Do you still want more?
It was the first time in his life that Joseph saw the Son of Mary with the eyes that his Mother saw Him with. That was the Son of God in person. It was no joke. He just happened to have the body of a child. But the one before him was the Firstborn of God.
And it was Him in person who was speaking to him in thought.
Yes sir, He was speaking to him in thought with the certainty that you are reading this book.
The rabbis were talking to Joseph in his own house and he had his mind somewhere else, somewhere else. They were demanding the genealogical documents of the Child and he was in another place, in another time. The Child was against the halo of the Carpenter's door, standing up, saying to him without opening his mouth: “You still don't believe me, Joseph, don't you see that I have to take care of my Father's things?”
But the trick backfired on the child.
After the moment, the rabbis left, again again and now more than before Joseph was closed in band. They would never return to Israel until his God gave him the order to return. And that was it, he would hear no more.
And so it was that the Child was defeated again. He stopped talking to Joseph. He had played the game and lost it. No one would move from Egypt until God gave Joseph the order to return to Israel, as simple as that, as tragic as that.
Simple to say, yes; to live, but not at all. Father and son stopped talking to each other, stopped even looking at each other. Jesus did not even eat. He let himself fall on the floor against the façade of his house, watching life go by, overwhelmed by the sorrow of the one who can do everything and is ordered to do nothing.
Maria did not know who suffered more. If the Child for not having been able to impose his will, or if her Husband for not being able to suffer the silence and the estrangement of his son. They did not even look at each other. Joseph did not dare, and the Child could not.
Cleophas was the only one who seemed to enjoy living that situation.
-What's the matter, brother, why are you so stubborn, he said to Joseph.
-He is only a child, Cleophas, Joseph answered.
Well, it happened that one of those days Joseph returned home from closing a deal. Jesus had already lost all hope of convincing the good Joseph. Since when had not spoken?
Joseph the Carpenter returned from closing that deal all serious, but with very bright eyes. As soon as Maria saw him walk through the door, her heart skipped a beat, but she didn't want to say a word. She waited for her husband to speak to her.
-Woman, tell your son that we are leaving.
She said no more.
The Mother took the Child and went to distract him at the flea market. She was going to buy him whatever he wanted, to cheer him up and lift his eyes, she said. Jesus followed her as he might have followed a cloud with no destination. Since the incident between Joseph and the rabbis, he did not want to know anything, he had no desire for anything. And there was nothing his own Mother could say to him to lift his heart.
Well, there was something. She had two signs, and it was a single word. Joseph refused and Mary could not give it to him.
Couldn't give it to her?
They would never forget that walk through the Alexandria port market. She kept smiling at him, tickling him, telling him with her gestures: Guess what, what's wrong with me?
Logically, the Child was annoyed for a while, until he finally opened his eyes. He took Maria -he always called her by her name- sat her down on one of the benches of the pier and looking into her eyes he read her heart as easily as you read these lines.
-Mary, yes?, was all the boy asked her.
She shook her head, dead happy. And right there against the background of the Mediterranean horizon they danced mad with joy.
They hurried back home. Joseph was at work when they entered. Mary passed by, but Joseph caught the light shining in his wife's heart. Her pupils lit up and she turned her head. Before he could say a word the Child came running out and threw Himself into his arms. Giant as he was, Mary's husband caught him and lifted him up as all parents do with their children. Now they had both won. The Child had what he wanted and Joseph had received God's order to set out on his journey.
Cleophas didn't refuse. Nor did he say anything. His brother-in-law was the head of the clan, he disposed, he commanded.
Jesus ran off in search of James, his cousin, shouting down the street: To Jerusalem, James, to Jerusalem.
The emigrants returned to Nazareth, as it were, rich. Joseph sold the Jew's carpentry at a very good price.
Farewell Alexandria farewell - whispered the lips of a Joseph who was leaving behind friends, business, happy years, new perspectives, a wise city, the joy of having lived wonderful things and heard other incredible things if he had not heard them from the lips of the Child.
On the other side of the horizon awaited him the return of pain sleeping under the thick sheets of a cruelly wounded subconscious. To return to Nazareth, to settle in Bethlehem, his village, what would he do?
During the absence of the Lord of the Stork of Nazareth, the big house on the hill, Joanna, Mary's sister, had kept her nephew Jesus' inheritance up. Joseph had no problem. Everything that was his wife's was his; so Joseph could devote himself to living off the rents and start living the good life. But no matter how prosperous his wife's inheritance was, this way of thinking did not suit him.
As a father, Joseph concerned about the future of his nephews. The future of Jesus was in the hands of God.
By this time his brother-in-law Cleophas had brought a troop into the world. Had his sister Mary remained unmarried it would have been more than likely that the inheritance of Jacob of Nazareth and his messianic legacy would have passed to the male of the house; in which case the future of Cleophas' children would have been tied to that of Mary's property.
This was not the case. Sooner or later the sons of Cleophas would have to leave the house of Aunt Maria, settle down and found their own families. So, without a second thought, Joseph made the final decision to begin again, as he had done the first time he arrived in Nazareth, unknown to all who did not know him, with no ground to drop dead on, the sky for a ceiling, the horizons for the walls of his house, the mother earth for a floor on which to lay his body, a pillow stone under the stars, his faithful Assyrian dogs on guard around the fire, the dawn at daybreak, the morning star under the moon, Jerusalem above, on his way to Samaria as one who enters a body and travels to the heart through the unknown arteries of the earth. Why not, did not God endow us with his strength to keep the spirit ever young? The forces must fail, but the desire continues beyond the weariness of the bones.
Of course, reopening the carpentry shop was going to be a serious job, but since those two men lacked neither the strength nor the courage to start over from scratch, well, that was it. Besides, the dark creatures who had ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents had already passed to better glory and, truth be told, although Joseph did not seem too eager to return to his homeland, he was also itching for the family, to see his brothers and sisters again, to see his wife and brother-in-law happy in their mother's arms. In short, human nature was woven with fibers of divine love and needs to bathe in tears of joy to overcome the innate tendency it manifests to resemble the beasts, which neither laugh nor cry.
As for the work, man, Joseph could have dedicated himself to the business of the field, but it was not his stick. The carpenter's trade was in his genes, it pulsed in his blood; it was his thing, he could glue a nail without looking, polish the roughest surface while he talked. The field? The countryside was not for him, nor was he made for the countryside. His sister-in-law Johanna was keeping the property on the rise.
Yes, for country matters there was his sister-in-law Jane. And as for Nazareth's sewing shop, the matter was in the hands of her wife's workers, and Mary, already devoted to her family, the first thing she did was to leave things as they were.
The Child, for his part, as soon as he set foot in Israel, was already dying to see the day of his admission into the community with all the full rights of adults, which usually took place at the age of thirteen or fourteen. In his case things were brought forward to the age of twelve because his head worked better than that of an older person. I am not saying this to impress the reader. What is certain is that during the whole journey from Egypt to Israel the Child was hyperactive; if it had been up to Him, He would have started to fly, or run on the waters and would not have stopped until He reached Jerusalem. He already imagined it all. He would make his way to the Temple Courtyard, ask for the word and let the truth flow from his mouth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
"Here I come Jerusalem" whispered the Child as they left Egypt behind.
The Child's idea of his messianic destiny was the classic popular thought of the times. The Son of David would present himself mounted on his horse of glory before the powers of the Temple, gather around him all the children of Abraham of the world and lead them to conquer the ends of the earth.
With these holy intentions in mind, the ceremony of admission into the community celebrated, at his twelfth birthday, Jesus went to the Temple to put his strategy into practice.
On the first day he would attract attention to himself; on the second day the word would spread; and on the third day he would be revealed to all the Wise Men of Israel in the immensity of his divine reality. On the fourth the Messiah would be on his throne calling to his ranks all the armies of the Lord in the world.
And so it was. At least for the first two days. But on the third something happened that would mark his existence for the rest of his life.
Marveling at the intelligence of that Child who knew more than all the wise men of Israel put together, the Temple authorities eventually gathered to make a decision about what was going on.
Among them took his place around Jesus, surrounded by the Doctors and Princes of the Temple, a certain Simeon. This Simeon was the old man who greeted the newborn Child and told his God that he could now let him go to join his parents because he had already seen the Christ.
God did not seem to agree with Simeon. Instead of taking him to Heaven, he left him still on Earth.
As soon as Simeon saw the Child, he recognized the Son of Mary. He was amazed at what he was seeing and spoke up when everyone was already convinced that he was looking at the Son of David.
-Tell me, son, said this Simeon, breaking the silence.
And he continued to speak words of wisdom unknown to the Child and to all.
-What will happen when you go away? Will we men return to our old days’ world, or do you think the Christ will stay with us forever?
“What was the old man talking about?”, the boy asked himself.
That old man was telling him, amidst the protests of all his colleagues, that the Christ should be surrounded by a pack of dogs, bear all the sins of the world, offer Himself as the Lamb of Atonement.
-But if he sits on his throne, how can the Scriptures be fulfilled, said Simeon.
The child froze. “He Was the Servant of Yahweh of Isaiah's prophecies “
It was not that the Child did not know the prophecies. He knew the prophetic books by heart. What was shocking to him was the interpretation that Simeon was giving them. It was a wisdom as new and unknown to him as it was to the others who were listening.
THE SWORD OF DAVID
Legend had it that the great warrior danced the dance of victory around the corpse of the enemy. It also said that those barbarians stole the secret of iron from the heroes of Troy before Aeneas fell under the cunning of the Greeks.
Among those soulless monsters the most horrible was always the chief. The chief was not always the tallest, but always the most cruel, the most terrible, the most ruthless, the most lethal and malignant. On that occasion the tallest and the most cruel and merciless barbarian conceivable had met in the same body. His name was Goliath. His sword was as great as that of that other warrior whom the Spaniards called Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the one that cut off five heads of Moors in single file. No one wanted to be less than three meters away from that Cid Campeador; those three meters were what his weapon measured from his shoulder to the tip of that Spanish steel sword. Arm and sword were one and the same thing with that Castilian warrior who in stature had little or nothing to envy to that of the bullying and gibbering philistine who made the terrible mistake of taking off his helmet in front of the slinger.
Legend has it that David picked up the giant's huge sword and with it cut off his head with a slash. And it goes on to say that the Hebrew warrior fought with it at the head of his armies. From which we must deduce that if David was beautiful of face, he was by no means short of body nor of delicate and fine arms. He was not a giant, but certainly the least like him was a dwarf.
The sword of Goliath was one of the royal symbol par excellence granted to the one in possession of the throne of Judah. Solomon received it and Solomon gave it to his son. Rehoboam to his son, the latter to the next, and so it passed from hand to hand during the five centuries that ran from the coronation of David to the last king of Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar snatched it out of the hands of the last living king of Judah and threw that museum sword among the other treasures his armies had collected around the world. He saw it so big and heavy that he thought it was a decorative object. He forgot about it and it would have remained there forever if, after conquering Babylon, Cyrus the Great had not given it to the prophet Daniel so that he could do with that sacred symbol of the Hebrews what it was in his spirit to do.
By legitimate right the sword of David, the sword of the kings of Judah, belonged by inheritance to Zerubbabel. But the prophet Daniel denied it to him because it was not with the sword that he should reconquer the Lost Homeland. The sword of Goliath would remain in the Great Synagogue of the Magi of the East until the Son of David was born.
We do not know how the sword of Goliath ended up in the hands of the Cid Campeador. What we do know positively is that that sword was the sword that Joseph was carrying the day he entered the Temple looking for the Son of Mary.
The sword of David was a gift from the Magi to the father of the Messiah. It fell to him to guard it until the day of his son's coronation.
The Magi gave Joseph many gifts. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were the last three gifts they gave him; but this was for the Child. Earlier they had given Joseph an Iberian horse that flew like a shooting star and was able to cross Samaria without drinking water or resting. And three dogs from the same craddle, a relic of the dogs that the kings of Nineveh took with them on their lion hunts. One was called Deneb, the other Sirius, and the third Kochab. Joseph never took them out together. They looked so much alike that anyone who did not know Joseph thought he had only one of that endangered species. They were as gentle as lambs at their owner's feet, but fiercer than the meanest demon in the most horrible hell if they smelled danger. His three dogs, his Iberian horse and Goliath's sword were the three things Joseph took with him from Bethlehem the day Elizabeth said to him:
-Son, all his sisters have married and are happy; the boy is already in bloom and has all his father's grace. Cleophas is strong, he is tall, he is clever, he will soon find someone to love him madly. Very soon the Daughter of Solomon will be free of her vow, is that not what the Son of Nathan has been waiting for all these years?
And a fourth Joseph took with him to Nazareth, which was the most precious of all: The genealogical document of his House. But to get to the point.
Only twice in his life Joseph's fist was shot at the sword of his father David. That his arm was shot off tells us a lot about the stature of the man and the strength of his arm. The first was when Joseph went to fetch Mary from Elizabeth's house. The second, when he went into the Temple to fetch Mary's Son.
What would have happened if instead of saying to his parents what he said to them, the Child had said to Joseph: Son of Nathan, give me the sword of the kings of Judah.
DUST THOU ART, AND UNTO DUST THOU SHALT RETURN
What did that old man discover to the Child? What did that man show him so that the Son of Mary would give up his plans? What did he tell him? Why did that Child shut his mouth and refused to get on the horse of the Son of David, the brave and impetuous prince who, according to the popular interpretation of the Scriptures, at the head of his armies, would bring the peace of God to the whole world? Why did he who entered the Temple ready to unveil himself and claim for himself what belonged to him by human and Divine right suddenly abandon his messianic plans and went after "his fathers" without saying a word?
That that old man --whose identity we will discover in Part Two-- discovered to the Child the wisdom that you all know from the mouth of the Catholic Church since the days of the Apostles, this is certain. But there was more, much, much more, too.
It is clear from the Scriptures that God and his Son, at the end of the Sixth Day of the Creation of Heavens and Earth, they left Adam and Eve for a time. When they returned they found the fait accompli. His Father understood all that had happened, judged the case and in the wrath of the Judge of the Universe passed sentence against all the actors. To the Serpent he swore that a son of Adam would rise up and crush his head. Adam and Eve were condemned to die.
Stunned, hallucinated by that rebellion against God, his Son, brother of the dead Adam, felt his blood rush to his head and dreamed of the day of vengeance of the son of Man.
But that Day of Vengeance was not for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. In fact, no one knew when. The Son of God only knew that, as time went on, the loss of the identity of the Man God created became greater and greater. It became so great, and the hatred that because of him was accumulating against the rebellious angels became so enormous that with all his Being he asked his Father to send him to Earth in person to confront the Devil himself. Once the Devil was defeated, the crown of Adam would be for the Victor; and being the Conqueror and the Son of God the same person, during his reign the Human World would leave the Hell to which it had been thrown and would resume the path for which it was created, and from whose path the Betrayal had taken it away.
The Son of God came to Earth with his blood boiling, ready to wipe away the tears of our world. His sword was in his mouth, it was his Word. To conquer the world he did not need the sword of Goliath, he only needed to open his mouth and command the winds to rise, the armies to lay down their arms. He came to overcomes Death and lead men to Immortality.
Did I say Immortality?
“Yes, son, but are you going to rebel against the sentence of your Father?" said that Simeon to him. "To save us, will you condemn yourself? To save the Present, will you condemn the Future? Certainly your Father has sent you to confront the Evil One and you will crush his head, but if you break down the walls of our prison against the divine judgment, how will you differ from that against which you have come to avenge the death of our father Adam? For the Judgment of God is firm: Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Don’t you see, son, that in letting yourself be dragged down by the love you have for us, you drag yourself down to perdition, and doing so you drag down with you all Creation? Who but the Judge of us all can sign our freedom? But if to his Son he has given that Power, then do according to your will."