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author: Paul Rand
contributor: Paul Rand


© 2018 Paul Rand

The day we found him in the temple. That was the day when I realised that he wasn’t mine.

I guess that probably sounds odd to you. I mean, we all knew, right from the beginning, that
I wasn’t the father. Well, I say that. Of course, when I still took Mary to be my wife, some
assumed that I must have been the one who was responsible for her condition. Well I took
responsibility for the both of them when I married her, but that didn’t mean that I was
responsible for what had happened, if you know what I mean.

No, I remember very clearly that other day. The day she arrived back from visiting her
cousin in Judea. The day when nobody dared look at me. The day when people quickly
stopped talking when they saw me approaching. The day when her father tried to turn me
away at the door, to stop me from seeing her for myself. He wouldn’t make eye contact
either. The day when I saw with my own eyes that my wife to be was pregnant with
someone else’s baby. No, that day will stay carved into my memory till the day I die.

But after that. After the angel had spoken to me in a dream. After I’d returned to Mary and
taken her home to live with me. After I’d stopped taking any notice of the looks and the
muttered disapproval. After I’d felt him kick for the first time. He just became mine, and I
sort of forgot that he wasn’t.

Does that sound strange to you, that I could forget that the boy I was bringing up wasn’t
really my boy?

Well, I was the only father he’d ever known. At least, that’s what I thought. Until the day
that we found him in the temple.

“Didn’t you know I had to be about my father’s business?”

That’s what he said to us. Well I’d made it my business to protect him all his life. I’d seen us
safely to Bethlehem when he could have arrived any day. I’d found us somewhere safe for
him to be born. I’d watched over him as his exhausted mother slept. And when all sorts of
strange visitors started arriving. I’d got us safely out of Judea and into Egypt before Herod’s
soldiers could track us down. And I’d brought us back to Nazareth at the right time and built
up the carpentry business again to keep us all fed and clothed.

He’s got the makings of a good carpenter too. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say he’s a bit
of a natural. He understands the wood. It’s like he can see what it will become even before
he’s started. Yet he works on it with such patience. I wish a bit of his talents would rub off
on his brothers. All they seem to want at the moment is to hit things with hammers. I guess
they’ll grow into it. But it was him I had the highest hopes for. Him that I saw taking over
the business when I got too old. Him who would make it his business to provide for his
mother after I’ve gone.

But when I saw him sat talking with those educated men in the temple. Holding his own.
Amazing them with his words of wisdom. Well, I knew then that this was where he really
belonged. I could tell that Mary hadn’t really twigged what was going on. She was too
anxious with worry. Not that I wasn’t anxious too mind you – fearing the worst as we
searched for him. Worrying that I’d failed in my duty as his father to protect him. But when
I saw him there, right at home, in his true father’s house. That’s when I realised that he
wasn’t mine. He didn’t belong to me. He never had.

So I suppose I shall have to start making alternative arrangements now. Put more of my
energy into taming and training his younger brothers. He did come away with us that day
and we came back home to Nazareth. And he’s continued his apprenticeship with me – not
that he needs much training really. Already, people are asking hopefully if it will be Jesus
doing the job when they come to us with an order.

But one day I know that he’ll put down his tools. Turn his attention fully to his father’s
business. I might not live to see that day, but even if I do I know there’s nothing I could do
to stop him. Because he’s not mine. I mean, I’m still his dad and I always will be. And I’m
proud to call him son. But he’s not mine. If you see what I mean.

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