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.