St. Joseph's life had been from the beginning
one of many trials and much suffering, but all were
mere trifles compared with the dark cloud of sorrow
that fell upon him after Mary returned from
the house of Elizabeth. He could not help seeing
that she was about to become a mother. What
could this mean? How could it be explained
consistently with her spotless purity? St. Joseph
ventured not to pass any judgment. Here he is our
model, slow in believing that which had the
appearance of evil, anxious to find a favorable explanation.
What explanation could he find? That she
had sinned was a thought not only abhorrent to
him, but utterly impossible in view of Mary's
transparent purity and exalted virtue. Away with
so horrible a thought! Could the human paternity
have been without any fault on her part?
Equally impossible; God would have protected His
handmaid. Was her condition a miracle wrought
by God? Such a miracle was without example since
the world began. Joseph was utterly perplexed.
All was dark and black; all he could do was to wait
and pray. O wise resolve!
But it was necessary to take action. In no
case could he keep her with him. She must be
sent back to her friends. How could he live without her?
How could he expose her to disgrace?
To put her to open shame was out of the question;
he must send her away privately. This was
his duty and he would do it. It would break his
heart to lose her, but he must do his duty without
thought of self. Here, too, St. Joseph is a
model to us.