I have an endless fascination with the two Josephs and the three Marys in the Gospels. I swear that a week doesn't go by when these significant men and women of the Bible don't cross my mind. I'm constantly googling information about them, though I'm not quite sure where I'm going with it. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks about this because I stumbled upon this little poem recently which stoked my interest even further:
How Life and Death in Thee
Thou hadst a virgin Womb
A Joseph did betroth
Both at Jesus' birth and death we can find a Joseph on hand waiting. Silent but important figures. One helped Jesus out of a virgin womb while the other placed Jesus in a virgin tomb. The Bible makes these two points clear - the virgin womb of our Lady and the unused, virgin tomb that our Lord was placed into at death by Joseph of Arimathea. There are a number of interesting parallels here which have given me much food for thought. There are even more than this but I thought I'd start here:
- One Joseph prepared a place for his birth - one Joseph prepared a place for his death.
- They both cradled his swaddled body.
- A virgin womb - a virgin tomb ( The Bible clearly states that this was an unused tomb.)
- Jesus was born in a cave ( grotto) and his body at death was also placed in a grotto.
-The word grotto comes from the word crypta (vault, cavern) which ultimately comes from the Greek word krypte - "hidden place".
Both the virgin womb and the virgin tomb were sealed. They were "hidden places" where 2 of the great mysteries of our faith took place. In both these places God changed the course of human history. In Jesus' birth, when the virgin womb was opened, we see that Divinity has descended to humanity. In Jesus death and burial we see that, when the virgin tomb was opened, humanity was lifted to the divine. Both are "clean" births, untainted by sin. The "new Eve" and the "new Adam" have rewritten history. We can now enter heaven, it is a rebirth for all humanity. In Baptism we were all buried with Christ and through his death and resurrection we may enter into eternal life. I often wonder if God placed the second Joseph at Jesus' burial for the very reason of pointing out the similarities between his birth and death and what these mean for mankind. We only have to look around the earth to see that God likes to speak through symbols. We see this in the Bible, too, which is rich in symbolism.
During Baptism we are sealed in Christ.
Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible mark of his belonging to Christ (CCC).
" Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." Rom. 6: 3-4
Don't even get me started on the three Marys. I filled a couple pages of a notebook on them.