The long, cold and difficult journey

Holy Family with the Holy Spirit

Joseph and Mary’s hardships would have begun more than a week before the birth of their son, when the couple had to leave their home in Nazareth, in the northern highlands of Galilee, to register for a Roman census. They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flat lands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. Travelling by Donkeys, walking and walking. And the trip through the Judean desert would have taken place during the winter. It’s nasty, miserable. And at night it would be freezing. We have no idea how difficult it was.

The woman is nine months pregnant. When they finally reach their destination after an arduous journey, there is no place to stay. The woman gives birth in a stable. It is widely agreed that Jesus was born in a cave used for housing animals. We can imagine the noisy and dirty conditions under which Jesus was born.

A few days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph is told (in a dream) to flee to Egypt. He is informed of this because Herod the Great will soon issue a command that all male children two years old and younger, in and around Bethlehem, are to be put to death. Their journey from Bethlehem to what is Egyptian-controlled territory (which was outside the jurisdiction of Herod) was at least 65 kilometres (40 miles). Again travelling by Donkeys and walking in difficult terrain. Finally, the travels of Mary and Joseph from Egyptian territory all the way north to Nazareth is a journey of at least 106 miles (170 kilometres).