Poor Joseph: Another Horror of Christmas

by Nestor Ravilas

Whenever I read this part of nativity story (Matt. 1:18-24), I could not help but to sympathize with the plight of Joseph. Not that I claim Joseph suffered and sacrificed more than what Mary had given up just to realize the divine plan. Only that his credulity in some sense flays down the most endeared image of macho Filipino male. I am wondering up to now what moves Joseph to acquiesce to such abject role in that divine drama; whether for the love of Mary or for God, I am not really sure. Since the drama was already done and we are all aware how the story has ended, Joseph was redeemed into heroism or sainthood and the role he played is now recognized as an act of indomitable faith. Prior to that, of course, he was nothing but an idiot easy to fall to such dimwitted narrative of the divine visiting the earth. And there is nothing more enduring, more torturing, than the part of yourself mocking you, saying, “You’re shit, you’re so gullible to believe that Mary is carrying the savior in her womb!” I pity him for that!

It is to expect too much from the man Joseph if he did not teeter a bit. Nonetheless, commendable indeed his courage and faith. The only reason given by the passage to justify such seeming incongruity is that the one carried by Mary was about to save them from their sins. Whether this assertion is a post-resurrection insertion to reflect Christian musing with the problem of sins, it does not depart however from the long awaited salvation from all forms of oppressions through the agency of the Chosen One. Hopeless and insoluble was the social malaise that Joseph humbly set aside his own interest for the “will” of God, and then embraced whatever the moral and psychological stigma this might bring to him just for his people to be redeemed. After all, it did not require his life as demanded from Jose Rizal or Ninoy Aquino. As Christmas is just around the corner, it is good to recall not only the boy in the manger, but also those who put the spotlight on him, so bright that it blinded the ‘viewers’ of the characters in the scene, so luminous the others seemed to be sketchy outlines in a haze. Was Joseph’s sacrifice satiated by the consummation of its very intention? Are we really redeemed and evil has finally diminished if not completely gone?
As far as I remember, we are the only Christian nation in Asia which is expected to be the only country to celebrate the festivity. But here is the irony: we have now the most corrupt president among all the corrupt presidents we had in the past. To miss the top position is not something to rejoice thus the government should stop touting it, but to fall second or third makes you still a corrupt country and it doesn’t make us feel any better. In this country you don’t need to tediously and meticulously plan a crime, you can pull the trigger at anyone at any time in a broad day light and walk free as if you just spit on someone’s face. And this is a country where you could be startled and mesmerized by the ostentation of the rich and famous and at the same time harrumphed on the obnoxious sights of famished majority of our people. In all this ironies, your only help is to look back to the manger where Christian religion all started and ask the question, “Whose failure is this?” The government for sure is one to be blamed, but the institution which has emanated from this nativity event has a lot more to explain. It is the church more than the government should be held responsible why this supposed redemption becomes a dive to perdition.
Thus, I could not help again but to look back to mystified Joseph and sigh, “Truly I pity you”!

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