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Joseph and the Trip to Bethlehem

More from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-V:

After the dream of Joseph and the word of the angel, this holy man was changed. He became a father, he became a husband by the heart. Others adopted children: Jesus adopted a father. The tender care which he gave Mary and the divine child was the effect of his marriage. He began this happy ministry by the trip to Bethlehem and we will see him soon.

What do you do, Princes of the world, to set the universe in motion, by proclaiming an enrolment of all your empire’s subjects? You want to know the power, the tribute, the future soldiers and you begin, to say so, by enrolling them. It is that or something like it which you think you are doing; but God has other plans which you carry out without regard for your human desires. His Son ought to be born in Bethlehem, humble homeland of David: he predicted it by his Prophet five hundred years before, and see that all the universe is moved to carry out this prophecy.

When they arrived at Bethlehem, ostensibly to obey the Prince who ordered them to register themselves in the public roll, in effect to obey the order of God whose secret program led them to carry out his purpose, Mary’s time to give birth came: and Jesus son of David was born in his town, where David had been given birth. His origin was attested by the public registry: the Roman Empire gave witness to the royal descent of Jesus Christ and Caesar, who did not know it, carried out the order of God.

Let us go also to write of Bethlehem: Bethlehem, the house of bread; let us go there to taste the heavenly bread, the bread of Angels which became the nourishment of man. Let us regard all Churches as being the true Bethlehem and the true house of the bread of life. It is this bread which God gives to the poor in the birth of Jesus, if they love poverty with him; if they know true riches: the poor will eat and be satisfied, if they imitate the poverty of their Saviour and come adore him in the manger.


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