I wonder how Elizabeth’s getting on with baby Yohanan….
I never did go back to stay with her. Less than a week after Yosef stormed out on me he was back to apologise! He had seen the angel as well, in a vivid dream, and been told everything – he even knew the baby’s name, Yeshua. So he knew that I was telling him the truth. Of course I forgave him; how could I have done otherwise? So now there are three other people in the world – four if you count my mother, who’s half convinced – who believe that I’m going to be the mother of the Messiah!
But after the high point of our wedding, everything seems to have gone downhill.
Yosef and I were planning to move to Bethlehem ‘sometime’, because the prophecy says that Messiah will come from there. (The problem is, there’s more work for a carpenter in Galilee – that’s why Yosef came down here in the first place). But then this census was announced, and Yosef wanted to go straight away. We had a big argument over it: when a girl is expecting her first baby, she needs to be close to her mother, and I don’t know anyone in Bethlehem. Why are men so impractical? But he was absolutely insistent. “I’m a descendant of King David; that’s where I belong. And you know what the Empire is like; if I don’t register Bethlehem as my home town now, they could make it difficult for me to work there in the future. Uncle Matthias will put us up for a while.”
Oh yes… Uncle Matthias and Aunt Susannah are putting us up. Because we’re ‘family’, they couldn’t very well refuse. But we’re not welcome. At first they were pleased that Yosef was remembering his family roots, but when they saw how big I was, the inevitable question wasn’t long in coming: “So how long have you been married, then?” And the atmosphere immediately went frosty. Yosef did his best – he went over the whole story, from the beginning – but Matthias just roared with laughter, while Susannah pursed her lips and looked prim. Poor Yosef was mortified… Since then – well, they’ve been very polite, but it’s obvious what they’re thinking: I’m a whore, and Yosef is a besotted fool. And there’s “no room” for us upstairs – that’s the feeblest excuse I’ve ever heard – so we’re sleeping downstairs with the goat and the chickens. The fact is, we’re an embarrassment to them, and I’m sure that Susannah hopes that we’ll just get fed up and go back to Nazareth.
I am fed up, and I do want to go home. If we leave first thing tomorrow, we should make it before the baby arrives…
Poor little Yeshua… it’s so unfair. Aunt Elizabeth was planning a big party to welcome your cousin Yohanan into the world, and everyone was bringing presents for him. We could only bring with us what we could carry, so we’ve got nothing: no home, no money, no friends. If you’re born here, there’ll be no party; you’ll be lucky if we can find you a cot to sleep in.
Our people have been waiting hundreds of years, longing for Messiah to come – but now, when it’s actually happening, nobody wants to know. Instead of cheering and celebrating, people whisper and point, and make snide remarks. What’s so special about you that you couldn’t be conceived in the ordinary way, like Isaac and Samuel – and Yohanan? Why did Elizabeth greet me as “the mother of my Lord”? (I did ask her, but she didn’t know; she said that the words ‘just came out’….) What did the angel mean when he said that you would be called ‘the Son of God’?