What do you mean you’re ‘more than old enough’ to be discussing such things’?
OK, OK, so Mother obviously thinks you are, and was happy for you and Joel to talk this through. So tell me, what was your first reaction? What did you feel, deep down?
I have just spent a hour with the man who is promised to Mary. He is shocked, bewildered, stunned. Well, who wouldn’t be?
Imagine if you got up one morning, and Sara came around to tell you she is expecting a baby. You love her, but you of all people know for sure it is not your child.
She is promised to you. Now here she is, pregnant – and she says an angel told her that it is because she found favour with God. She tells you that the Holy Spirit has come upon her, that the child she is carrying will be called the Son of the Highest, and that He will be given the throne of David.
How would you feel? The rest of the town can believe what they want, but you are the only one who can be absolutely sure it is not your baby. Alright, Sara would know too, but at this point you may well be questioning her version.
Where does that leave you? Confused, betrayed, helpless? For sure wondering who the father really is.
What do you DO?
You could quite rightly turn her off. You could refuse to have anything to do with her ever again. She would be publicly shamed, rejected by all her friends, cast off by her family, alienated from the town she grew up in, forced to go out alone into an unknown. Nobody would want an adulteress around, and that is how they would look on her.
The woman you love, left to starve.
Could you do it?
You could say you forgave her, marry her, and take the baby on as your own. Perhaps. Perhaps Joseph could. But there would always be that question: Whose child is it?
Could you live with that?
I am asking you this, and at the same time I am asking myself. This is what Joseph is fighting with and I have no answers for him. I am trying to remain detached as the work demands, but I am finding it difficult. I want to help, but I don’t know how. He is such a straightforward person it is confusing to me to see him confused.
Believe me, I am confused.
Thank you – as always, a mixture of wisdom, good sense, and slow-down-Benjamin. It worked out just like you said it would. I did not need to tell anybody anything. The story was all over the village within a day, and the rumblings haven’t stopped since.
I have been in the middle of it all. Mary, the girl who is pregnant, is family of the innkeeper, and the ladies have their morning gossip session around the tables right outside my window. They are shocked, but surprisingly supportive. You were right there too – family pulls together at a time like this.
I decided not to send my version of the visit to the editor. If you discount the angel, which I almost certainly would have to if I want him to take me seriously, it becomes just a local village scandal.
The one I feel for is Joseph, the betrothed. I have been spending time with him. He probably sees me as the only person who is not directly involved in what is happening. He doesn’t so much ask my advice, but he likes to talk things through, as though talking to me helps him to put things straight in his own mind.
It’s a bit like I used to feel when I spoke to Father, before things – well, you know.
I must go. If I don’t write again before I leave, I will be in touch from Jerusalem after I have given the assignment in
Give my greetings to Father.
TO: MNR, Jerusalem
Attn: Petrus Andronicus
FROM: B Levi
Subject: Focus Feature – Rural Village
Wrapping up to leave in ten days with next major camel train. Bringing final drafts.
Benjamin J Levi