Friday, December 23, 2022
Reader: “Jesus, the Light of the world, is coming!”
Response: “. . . he is coming soon!”
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Joseph has always been a man who intrigues me. While the Scriptures do not tell us how he found out, I would guess Mary simply told him what had happened. Put yourself in his place? Your fiancée tells you she is pregnant, but no earthly man is the father. What’s more, her story is that the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her and that is how she became pregnant! It doesn’t stop there. She is having a boy who will be the Son of God! His name will be Jesus and he will rule God’s Kingdom forever. Right! This is too much to believe!
If I were Joseph, my first response would be to ask her how she was feeling. I might suggest we go see a therapist or someone to help her work through this story and try to get to the root cause. She clearly needs to deal with reality. I would ask her not to talk about it with anyone. I would try to minimize her exposure to society and maybe suggest I help her move to another town . . . far away for a while. Visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, sounds like a good idea. Maybe she can help Mary get back to reality.
From reading the Scripture passage, my guess is that several if not all of those thoughts went through Joseph’s mind. It would take something like a direct visit from an angel of the Lord to persuade me of her truthfulness and that God was really directing this whole endeavor. The angel even gave Joseph specific details regarding the baby, further confirming the truthfulness of what had happened.
After the angelic visit, in faith Joseph took Mary as his wife right away. We find in Luke’s gospel that Mary went to stay with her aunt Elizabeth for three months until John was born. So the first three months of Mary’s pregnancy were spent away from her home. We don’t know if Joseph went with her or if he stayed in Nazareth. At any rate, he was one solid, steady man whose total trust was in the Lord. I have no doubt that he and Mary were the subject of much gossip in Nazareth. We know that he was still living when Jesus was twelve. It appears he died sometime later and was gone by the time Jesus started his public ministry at around age thirty. From what we read in Scripture, he was a thoughtful, observant Jew, and a considerate husband who took good care of his wife and eventual family of at least seven children. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have God as a son? I’m looking forward to talking with Joseph!
Music: “O Magnum Mysterium” Morton Lauridsen Los Angeles Master Chorale
This piece was written specifically for this choir. Paul Salamunovich, conductor
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
That animals should see the new-born Lord, (in tradition a veiled reference to Is 1:3)
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy
to bear Christ the Lord. (reference to Elizabeth’s comment Lk 1:42-43)
Father in heaven, may I be as trusting and faithful to those things from your hand that seem mysterious, improbable, puzzling, or impossible. Thank you for the example of Joseph’s faith and integrity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.