Advent and Christmas: we’ve celebrated Mary’s demand for a just world, Joseph’s support for the pregnant woman he’s not married to, their escape from oppression, the refusal of sanctuary, the birth of Jesus.
Now Jesus is born and living in obscurity with his family. It will be 30 years of his doing we know not what. As the average life-expectancy was 35-45 years, he spent most of his life doing “we-know-not-what.”
In the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” (as opposed to “The Gospel of Thomas,” different guy), Jesus on occasion killed children who made him angry, just by commanding it. When the bereaved parents complained to Joseph, Jesus struck them blind. Uber-bullying.
“And, seeing what Jesus did, Joseph rose and took hold of his ear and pulled it hard.” (Th 2:5)
From this account we may be sure that Joseph and Mary worked long and hard to produce the adult who proclaimed the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps we can celebrate this post-Christmas season as “The Season of Parenting.” No doubt the influence of his parents influenced his teachings. Were his parents the ones who took the vengefulness part of God and transform it in the open heart of their child? Unlike God God, Jesus had a mother; was that the secret? How did parents who went through all they went through, deal with a child who acts out? Never mind a supernatural, death wielding one? One thing is for sure: they were two tough, loving, patient, people.
“The Infancy Gospel of Thomas” was not included in the canon, and was decried as heresy. If we want to remember the true humanity of our fore-bearers, I think it is worthy of any parent’s canon. To give them hope, and to encourage them; for some to know that they are not alone in the brattiness of their offspring. The parents of children who are bullied can know that Joseph hears their pain.
21st century American parenting would look terribly strange to Joseph and Mary, but one truth remains: nurturing a child ain’t easy. Happy Parenting Season!