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The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

22. JOSEPH ENTERTAINS THE THREE HOLY KINGS.




Meanwhile Joseph, helped by two of the old shepherds, had set out a light meal in the kings' tent. They brought plates with bread, fruit, honey-comb, bowls with vegetables, and flasks of balsam, arranging it all on a low table on a carpet. Joseph had got together all these provisions for the kings in the morning, having been forewarned of their arrival by the Blessed Virgin. When the kings and the members of their families returned to the tent after their evening hymn, I saw Joseph receiving them with great friendliness and begging them to be his guests and accept this modest meal. He reclined among them round the low table as they ate. He was not at all shy, and was so happy that he shed tears of joy. (When I saw this, I thought of how my dead father, who was a poor peasant, was obliged to sit at table with so many grand people when I was clothed at the convent. He was very humble and simple and had dreaded this sorely, but afterwards he was so happy that he wept for joy. Without wanting it he became the guest of honor.) After this slight meal Joseph left them. Some of the more important persons accompanying the kings betook themselves to an inn at Bethlehem, the others lay down to rest on their couches spread out in a circle in the big tent.

When Joseph returned to the Crib, he put all the presents in a corner of the wall to the right of the Crib, placing a screen before it so that what was kept there could not be seen. Anna's maidservant, who had remained behind to wait on the Blessed Virgin, had stayed all this time in the small side-cave, of which the door was in the entrance to the Cave of the Nativity. She did not come out until all had left the Crib. She was very serious and modest. I never saw either the Holy Family or this maidservant showing any worldly pleasure at the sight of the kings' gifts. Everything was accepted with humble gratitude, and given away again with gentle charity.

When the kings had arrived that evening at the tax-collecting office in Bethlehem, I had seen a certain amount of disturbance there and much movement in the town. Some people followed the kings to the Valley of the Shepherds, but soon came back again. Afterwards, while the kings, radiant with holy joy, were worshipping and offering their gifts at the Crib, I saw some Jews lurking at a distance in the country round and murmuring angrily, and then going about in Bethlehem spreading all kinds of rumors. These miserable men made me shed bitter tears; I was grieved at heart for the evil people who, nowadays as in those distant times, stand about muttering and grumbling and spreading lies in their wrath; salvation is so close to them, and they thrust it from them. How unlike they are to the good kings who, in their trusting faith in the Promise, have come from so far and have found salvation. How I pity the hard-hearted and blind!

In Jerusalem during this day I saw Herod again with several scribes. They were reading from scrolls and talking of the statement made by the kings. Afterwards it was no more spoken of, as though the whole matter were to be ignored.











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