Answered by: Fr. Julian
Thanks for your question.
In the Christian icons that feature both Christ and Mary, the Mother of God, the icon of the Nativity is the one that depicts Mary not looking at Christ Child. Instead, she is looking at her husband Joseph, interceding for him, praying for him that he may come to know that the One who is born of her is the Son of God.
Tradition tells us that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph walked out of the cave, battling doubts. The figure of the old man next to him is believed to be the devil who is, of course, filling Joseph’s mind with all sorts of doubts and probably angry thoughts.
Since he knew he was certainly not the father, Joseph’s confusion and feelings of disgrace are expressed this way in the prayers of the Feast: “I do not understand, and I tremble … now what do I behold?” Yet Joseph has a halo, which indicates his sanctity.
Sometimes when God shows up in our lives, we are filled with questions and even doubts. God bestows His grace upon us, but then He seems to withdraw a little bit, allowing difficulties to test and deepen our faith. We may wonder why things happen the way they do. But if we persevere and trust the Lord, we will come to know, love and serve the One True God and overcome our doubts as St. Joseph did.
Our Church’s hymns mention Joseph’s doubt and Mary’s encouragement: When Joseph, overwhelmed with worry, was on his way to Bethlehem, you, O Virgin, spoke to him, saying: Why do you, seeing me with child, look sad and troubled, not knowing the great mystery, which is revealed in me? Cast away all fear and learn glorious things: Out of love God comes to earth, receiving a body in my womb. You shall see His birth, as He ordained; be filled with joy and worship Him as your Creator, Whom the angels unceasingly praise and glorify together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. – (Ninth Hour of the Prefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord)
May the Lord bless you.
Respectfully submitted by Fr. Julian Bilyj