When a couple like Joseph and Mary were betrothed it was expected that they would at times sleep together, so when Mary, returned from her six months with Elizabeth, no one had any doubts of who the child’s father was. Only Joseph and Marry knew, Joseph had given Mary the joy of becoming her aspoused man, but now she had no way of explaining to him about the Spirit coming upon her so she was not talking.
Joseph did not think he could rightfully take another man’s child, and so he felt he was bound to divorce Mary, to let the real father have the child. However, since he knew Mary to be the finest person ever, he could not divorce her in a shamefully public way.
Either alternative for him was wrong. My mother used to say, “You’ll be damned if you do, you’ll be damned if you don’t.” A more modern way to say it is, “Joseph was in a bind.”
Once, doing this story with the Seventh Grade, I asked the kids to write down the story of when he or she was in a bind. One boy wrote, “I was in a bind when my father asked me to be his best-man when he was marrying another woman.”
In hearing confessions at several places last week I was saddened by the stories of women finding that their husband was cheating on them. It seemed to me that they felt such a betrayal more deeply then a man would. That husband was her man, and no one else’s. A funny thing happened I my confessional several years ago. A young lady came in and said, “I don’t want to go to confession. I just wanted to tell you I got me boyfriend.” She was really saying he was hersHe was hers, doggone it!”
I often take a meal at the Country Cabin café. It is favored by old couples, and you would see something especially beautiful about their partnership. They put me in mind of a poem by the Scot, Robert Berns from a hundred an fifty years ago.
A Scottish woman used to refer to her man as her “Jo.” Here is the second verse in which the old lady calls John Anderson her jo. She remember when his locks were like the raven’s, but npw they are like the snow. She says, “Blessings on thy frosty pow” Then,
John Anderson my jo, John
We climbed the hill togither,
And there many a cantie day,
We had wi ane anither.
But now we maun go down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep together at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.