There are certain holidays that people cannot ignore, and Christmas is one of them. Christmas lovingly kindles the flame that guides us from within, and reminds us of the wonders that are always whispering to us.

Of course, Christmas is a Christian holiday, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. But I have often wondered about the importance of Joseph in the story of Christmas. There isn’t much written about Joseph, who married Jesus’ mother Mary. Who was he? What kind of a man was he?

For these answers, we journey with Adam Hamilton, as he travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem in a fascinating look at the birth of Jesus Christ. In his book “The Journey,” Hamilton uses historical information, archaeological findings and personal reflections to follow the footsteps of Mary, Joseph and others. When Hamilton thinks of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, he thinks of a giant of a man ”“ a carpenter with huge hands. He thinks of a man who put in a hard day’s work and took pride in what he had done. Joseph was imagined as a humble, honest, hardworking craftsman. He was patient and persistent when it came to his work, and very careful with his money.

While Mary was staying at the home of Elizabeth, she told Joseph that she was pregnant. As Joseph heard the news, he felt his hopes and dreams had been crushed and his trust had been violated. The law commanded that women who were adulterous were stoned to death.

At some point during Joseph’s 90-minute walk back to Bethlehem, though, his anger gave way to concern for Mary’s life. Joseph was hurt, but he did not want to see Mary die. He began to develop a plan to break off the engagement formally and legally. That night Joseph went to sleep, and as he slept, he had a dream that was almost like a vision. He saw a messenger of God in his dream ”“ an angel.

“Joseph,” the messenger said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Joseph doesn’t have a book of the New Testament named after him. None of his words are preserved in scripture, and he is only mentioned a few times in the Bible. He was a simple, humble man who did what God asked. Joseph’s call was to serve God and others and to do so selflessly and without regard for recognition or the praise of others. His responsibility was to raise Jesus.

I wish all of you a blessed, happy and safe holiday season. May your days be merry and bright.

— Zaffie Hadiaris of Saco is the host of “Zaffie,” a weekly television talk show on Channel 3 Biddeford public access. It can also be seen at biddefordmaine.org. Contact Hadiaris at [email protected]