CHAPTER 2: JESUS, THE SON OF MARY

CHAPTER 2: JESUS, THE SON OF MARY

‘Can you please make your bed Jesus?’ Mary was busy sweeping the floor of the bedroom of her sons Jesus and Jesse. Jesse was already making his bed but Jesus was still playing on the ground. Jesus obeyed and started making his bed. ‘Sorry mom, but I was thinking.’ ‘You are always thinking my son, what was it this time?’ ‘I was wondering why I breathe and my doll doesn’t, still the doll is there every day when I wake up.’ Jesus stopped folding his blankets and stared in front of him.’ ‘Jesus, there is a difference between living and inanimate creatures but all are part of life.’ Mary loved discussing with her sons, teaching them about all she had learned in her life. Jesse was more practical like his father Joseph and Jesus dazzled her with his brightness and capability to deep thought. Jesus was eight now and Jesse six and a half. Both boys were attending school in the palace together with royalty. They lived in a roomy house close by the royal castle and Joseph’s business as a carpenter was booming. Mary was a housewife and mother for the first years but as the boys started school she took on a job as librarian. They were doing well as a family. Sometimes Mary would share her concerns with Joseph, whom she totally accepted as her husband, that there would come a time they would have to tell Jesus about his origins but she was always soothed by the fact that Jesus did not have questions about who he was. He was the son of Joseph and Mary from Bengalore, India. As a baby he was very easy to care for. He only cried when he was hungry or had soiled himself. Mostly he was looking around him with a wondering look and was very interested in the woman who fed and cared for him. The man played with him whenever he was home and seemed very nice. When he was one and a half Jesse was born. Jesus just accepted this new person in his life and was from the beginning very protective towards his little brother. As they grew older, they would play together and share everything. Even as their difference in temperament showed throughout the years they maintained a solid friendship. Their parents felt blessed with these boys. When it was time for them to attend school they excelled in almost every subject and they made their teachers proud. They had a hunger for knowledge and especially Jesus gave way to having many talents. Besides languages, he was good at math, was keenly involved in his philosophy lessons and enjoyed sports like swimming, swordsmanship, running and hiking. He loved being outside and climbed many a tree. He involved his brother in all his endeavors and Jesse enjoyed the simple pleasure of being in his big brother’s company and under his guidance. The family was happy. Sometimes Mary and Joseph would talk about Israel and returning there. They missed their family and friends of their youth but wondered if it was safe for them to go back. Herod was still in power and still on the prowl for illegitimate off-spring of his son. Mary had never completely recovered from her traumatic experience but she loved her son and would do everything she could to keep him safe. 

Every Saturday the Sabbath was a part of their lives. Joseph with the support of his wife would uphold this Jewish tradition. Sometimes Jesus would question the religious feelings of his parents since now he was learning about religion. At school he learned about Hinduism, Judaism, Egyptology and Chintoism. He would ask Joseph who to adore since there were so many Gods. ‘Which speaks most to your heart my son’ was the usual answer of Joseph to those ponderings of Jesus. ‘People need a religion…’ Jesus was helping his father with some wood works, ’Yes, they do, and since there are many religions one has the choice.’ ‘But father what do I choose? Every religion I’ve learned about has a legitimate God. What is one to believe?’ ‘Son, all that I can tell you, is that he manifests himself in all ways, and if you do good God will tell you what he wants from you, because we all are his creation. So do good things, my son.’  Jesus was satisfied with this answer for now, still he would go on wondering. When he was ten he would retreat to the water and would be lost for hours to the great worry of his parents. During these absences he would be lost in deep thought. The time would pass without Jesus being aware of its passing.

As the time passed the desire of Mary and Joseph for remigration to Israel became stronger. ’What shall it mean for the boys?’They would feel the ties they have with our loved ones and get to know their kin.’

‘But it will be a great risk. Jesus might be in danger by being home. Should we prepare him and Jesse for our return?’ Mary was more worried than Joseph about returning home. She was excited to see her kin again, show her children to her family, to walk on the land of her ancestors. Joseph was calmer about their return. Quietly he planned the journey and took precautions in case they would have to go back to India. Together they set the boys down and told them about their plans. The boys had mixed feelings. They felt that they did not know anything about Israel and wondered if they would feel welcome and at home in this new place. They only knew Bangalore and all their friends were here. But their parents convinced them that it would be okay. And the sons obeyed the parents and so they said their goodbyes and went on their way. The family connected with a trade caravan which headed in Israel’s direction. The boys bravely endured the journey but grew sadder with every mile they moved away from home towards an unknown future in a, to them, foreign land. Jesus did know he was born there but had no recollection of course and Jesse was a born Indian. Mary and Joseph hadn’t told Jesus much about his birth and he had never questioned his relationship to Joseph though they had little in common physically. But inside, his curiosity for Israel grew bigger as they came closer. He asked a lot of questions and then was quiet for a long time pondering on the answers. Every place they passed or stayed in for a few days to rest he observed with interest. He found communalities in housing and the character of the dwellers. He was quick in connecting with the children in these places. Jesse was a little less forthcoming in his contacts and stayed close to Jesus when they ventured out to discover their surroundings.

‘We’re almost in Nazareth’, Mary told the boys enthusiastically. She grabbed Joseph’s hand and mimicked ‘Almost home’ to him. He pressed her hand and gave her a nod with a shining smile on his face. ’Yes my dear, almost home.’   At this point Jesus could hardly contain his curiosity for that magical place his parents came from. Since they entered Israel he felt something he had only felt in Bangalore up till now. It was a certain feeling of belonging of being where you belong. There were more people that looked like him and his family. The Sabbath was a normal occurrence and even the way of talking sounded familiar to Jesus. He said to Mary: ’Now I like it that you brought us home, I can see you missed your home and family. Thank you, mother for taking me here.’  When they came close to Nazareth they noticed a crowd at the entrance of the village. It was the people who had had the news that Joseph and Mary were on their way home. Jesus never felt such welcome as the day they arrived home. The family was escorted to the home of Mary’s parents. They had grown old and had missed their daughter for all these years but nevertheless they were happy she came back and was doing well. They were excited to see Jesus again and get to know Jesse, their two grandsons. Joseph and Mary looked happy together and the boys looked well cared for. The first days of their return the family had a lot to talk about plus there was a constant coming and going of relatives and friends who came to see them for themselves.  They were happy days in Jesus’ life and he soaked up the atmosphere and felt happy and relieved. This was nice.

After getting permission from the Roman authorities to settle in Nazareth, Joseph built a house for his family and they continued their life in Nazareth. Mary started a school because there wasn’t any and she convinced her people to send their children to school, to learn how to read and to write. Jesus and Jesse helped her in sharing their knowledge with the children of Nazareth.  Like his mother Jesus had grown a liking for reading and frequented the library and lost himself in the stories of his ancestors he read about, totally forgetting the time. Even though she worried, Mary would often smile as she saw herself in her son. Jesse mostly was to be found at Joseph’s side, who had started a timber company in which he employed the men from Nazareth for there was a lot of poverty in Israel. Israel still was a Roman colony and in that aspect nothing much had changed since they had left. Herod the father was still in power and still helping the Romans to exploit the people. For everything you needed Roman permission and Joseph would worry about the safety of his family. But since his wife and children seemed relaxed and happy, he would only open up to his father in law who would sooth him by saying that as long as they did not seek problems, problems wouldn’t find them and he convinced him to believe in the support of God who would keep them safe. God would look after them. And Joseph would be relieved and pray for guidance.

‘Does he know?’ Mary’s mother looked guessingly   at her daughter. ‘No, he hasn’t asked and we never found reason to tell him.’ ‘Honestly, I think it will be time soon to tell him the truth about his origins so we can better protect him if push comes to shuff.’ ‘Until Herod gets wind of his presence.’ ‘ Let’s pray that this day stays far away.’ ‘That’s wishful thinking Mary, you’ll have to tell him soon.’ Mary was quiet for a moment, her mother was right. Jesus needed to know the truth about his birth. She will talk to Joseph and then they will find a way to tell her son the truth about himself. She felt sad for a moment as she relived the time of Jesus’ conception. She prayed that he would not hate her and Joseph for not telling him sooner and that the truth would not destroy his loving and caring spirit. But yes, if Herod would find out about her son, Jesus could get killed and that was the last thing she wanted to happen. So she took the courage and talked to Joseph and together they told Jesus the story of his conception and birth. Jesus asked their permission to be by himself for a while. The parents left their son’s side to leave him to his own thoughts. They knew their son, he needed time to digest the news.

Jesus left the house and wandered to the spot his mother had described as the place she was abducted from by Herod’s son. He arrived there, he was in turmoil. He started to pray. ‘ God, help me. I don’t know how to go on.’ Jesus was in great doubt. Who was he? Why was he born? He emerged into deep meditation. Tears were rolling down his face. It became dark. Jesus had not come home. Mary was deeply worried. Where was her firstborn son? At that same moment as Mary cried for her son, Jesus got his calling. He heard a voice coming from his outside. ‘Jesus, you are put on earth to do my work. I am your father. I’ll stay at your side and guide you. You must free my people. ‘ Jesus was baffled. Was that God who spoke to him  or was it his own turmoil that brought forth this voicing of his thoughts. He looked around. He was alone. There was no one near him. He went on praying, asking for guidance. The voice spoke again. ‘Find yourself, think!’ And Jesus got on his feet and started walking. He walked away from Nazareth. He walked the whole night. He did not stop to eat or sleep. This went on for three days. On the fourth day a man joined him. He talked to Jesus asking him who he was and where he was going. But Jesus looked in his direction and never answered. So the man told him he was on his way home because his wife was about to give birth and they were near. He took Jesus by the hand and led him to his house. There he offered Jesus food. Jesus ate and looked at him in a daze. Still he did not speak. The man’s wife gave birth to a son. They named the son Peter. Jesus prayed for the boy in himself and the parents felt blessed. The man put Jesus in a bed so he could sleep and Jesus slept. He was exhausted. He slept for 20 hours then he got up. The man made sure Jesus ate something and blessed him. Jesus smiled but went on his way. His journey was leading him to his birthplace, Bethlehem but for now he was just instinctively walking in that direction. Through his journey men and women would feed him and give him shelter without asking anything or wanting anything in return. The feeling that he had a special task grew with Jesus as he silently walked on.

Mary did not know where her son was. Her father brought relief when he got word that his grandson had been seen walking. He learnt that Jesus was considered special, on a quest which could lead to the freedom of the Jewish people. Mary prayed and hoped that she would get her son back in good health. She understood his struggle with himself and she loved him with all of her heart. Joseph stood by his wife and comforted her as best as he could. Soon Mary was pregnant. It consoled her that she might have lost her first born but life has given her another change with the new life that was growing in her.

Jesus safely reached  Bethlehem. He was sitting at the well when a woman approached him. She was an older woman and she spoke:’ Are you Jesus?’ For the first time Jesus got his voice back. ‘ Yes, I am Jesus.’ ‘Bless the lord, you survived!’ ‘Do you know me?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Yes,’ she said, ’I helped your mother when she gave birth to you.’ ‘You were the midwife at my birth?’ ‘Yes, and they had to leave very soon after you were born. You were in grave danger. I did not know why exactly but I wrapped you up and put you in your mother’s arms. That was the last time I saw them and you. But you have not changed, I recognize you.’ The woman invited Jesus to her home where he remained for 2 months. He preached to the people in Bethlehem and they gratefully listened. People invited him to their homes so he could spread the word but finally the elders advised him to go to Jerusalem and try to confront Herod Antipas, his father. Herod Antipas was secretly opposing his father’s reign. He wanted to have a better connection with the people of Israel when he would become the ruler. But his father was still ruling and Antipas did not stand a chance to ruling yet.  Then he heard that a boy was spotted on the road to Jerusalem and that boy was his son. Antipas felt threatened, so he went to his father to consult him about this problem. He had lived in the knowledge that his father had eradicated all the illegitimate children that were born after his youthful rampages. And he realized he would have to do something about Jesus because Jesus could ruin him and his inheritance of the political power over Israel. His father decided to send soldiers to chase Jesus and kill him before he could bring damage to the Royal family. But the soldiers could not identify Jesus in the masses. Jesus was part of a large caravan when he was on his way to Jerusalem and again he spoke as little as possible. He learnt about the soldiers his grandfather had sent out to kill him. People took him into protection and kept his identity secret when they would run into Herod’s men and the Romans. The Romans had also heard about this supposed son of Herod and they were also on the prowl for this boy who could form a threat to the Roman Empire.

Jesus made it to Jerusalem. In the meantime Mary and Joseph got word that their son was spotted in Jerusalem. Mary was 6 months pregnant but decided that they should go meet their son in Jerusalem and hear him out. She was all for leaving Israel again for India so Jesus could be safe. Joseph and Mary found their way to Jerusalem. After some inquiries and searching a while they found Jesus in the main synagogue. He was surrounded by elders and was speaking to these men. When he spotted Joseph and Mary he ran to them and embraced his mother and Joseph.’ Mother, father, I’ve missed you!’ he called out. ‘ Jesus, we’ve missed you too, why did you leave?’ ‘I got God’s calling and had to find myself. Mother, father I’ve prayed and he led me back to you.’ ‘Jesus, you are not safe. Again Herod is after your demise,’ Mary said. ‘We should leave this place and see to it that Jesus finishes his education,’ Joseph thought that that would be the best thing to do. Jesus emerged in thought while his parents were patiently awaiting his decision. ‘ I want to educate myself in order to free my people from Herod’s and foreign rule. I’m happy that you are willing to support me. I will follow your lead father.’

And so it was decided. They went back to Nazareth were they said goodbye to the parents and loved ones and packed and left for India.  Jesus promised his friends and family that he would come back. His mission would be to free his people in every way he could.