Joseph awakened from a deep and disturbing dream. He knew within himself that a great danger now threatened his family. He rushed outside as if expecting to see Herod’s brutal soldiers rushing towards him. But the streets were calm; well relatively so as the queues formed again for registration. He watched the three Eastern visitors pack up and prepare to leave. They were chatting excitedly among each other. Caspar spoke to him, when he recognised him, ‘My friend, our rest has been shattered by a fearful dream. It was as if an angel of God spoke to each of us, with the message not to return to Jerusalem but for each of us to return home by a different way!’ Joseph looked up in alarm at those words, it was so similar to his own dream where the same heavenly messenger warned him to get out of Bethlehem immediately. He looked around frantically, uncertain what to do. A voice calling out to him shattered his indecisiveness. It was the other Joseph, newly arrived with Sarah and their own new-born son. After greeting one another with a kiss of friendship, Joseph brought them into the now animal-free cave to see Mary and Jesus. It was a joyful and all-too-brief reunion. Joseph explained his dream, and how important it was for both families to get out of Bethlehem before Herod’s soldiers arrived to do their worst. Horror and fear were soon overcome with practicalities. As Mary and Sarah started to pack their donkeys, the two Josephs brought a chunk of the golden nugget and bribed an official to register them swiftly. Rushing back to the cave where all was near ready for their departure; Joseph and Sarah to their home up north, Joseph and Mary south to Egypt, Mary asked them, ‘What are we to do with this Myrrh, it is way too big for our donkey to carry?’ ‘We will bring it with us,’ answered Sarah, her husband nodded agreement, we have extra donkeys and can keep the myrrh safe until you return to collect it.
The parting was all too swift, a bond of friendship between the two families had begun which would unite them for years. As Mary and Joseph walked south out of Bethlehem, their treasured gifts tucked safely atop their donkey, and their child wrapped safely in his mother’s arms, Joseph suddenly realised that he had forgotten to ask the other Joseph what he had named his son. Mary laughed in gentle exasperation at his lack of thought and curiosity, ‘Sarah told me, they called him Joseph after his father, Joseph of Arimathea!’
The herald messenger and the fallen Angel watched the unfolding consequences of recent events with completely different mind sets. While Lucifer raged and fumed at the successful escape of the Holy Family and their friends from Bethlehem, he took perverse delight in the terror that followed as soldiers obeyed the ranting orders of a despot king. Using the registration documents from the ongoing census to identify families with new-born boys aged two years of age and under, an unspeakable horror was carried out. Screaming and devastating heartbreak echoed over the village and the surrounding hillsides for many years after. Gabriel watched in heart-wrenching silence. It was the vain pride of travelling gift-bearers that had set the scene for the slaughter of the innocents in motion; but Gabriel knew that it was really the cruelty and fear of a corrupt king, influenced by a fallen angel who had once burned so brightly with heavenly light. As Lucifer returned to his pits of hell, the one place in all of Creation where God did not dwell, Gabriel rose up to the heavenly gates where the keening and lamenting of millions of angels could be heard even through the thick doors. He gave heartfelt thanks to Almighty God that Jesus was safe for now and that the ultimate gift of love would finally and irrevocably lighten and shatter the darknesss.