Gospel: Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a (or Lk 2:41-51a)
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ—the Messiah.
This is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to disgrace her.
While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins.“
When Joseph awoke, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.
Joseph, obedient husband
We begin this week with a celebration of the father of the holy family of Nazareth. And we will conclude with a celebration of the mother of the holy family.
Joseph was a pious Jew who followed the Law conscientiously. He obeyed the prescriptions of the Law even when it would be painful. When, therefore, he discovered that Mary, his betrothed wife was already pregnant before they could even live together, he knew that the Law mandated him to divorce Mary. He could only painfully conclude that there was somebody who had a greater right to Mary than himself. But he would do so quietly for he loved Mary whom he did not want to be disgraced or even be stoned to death for the presumed sin of adultery.
An angel of God appears to Joseph in a dream, however, revealing to him to continue his marriage with Mary for the child in her womb was not of man but of the Holy Spirit. Joseph the just man obeys. He had the faith of his fathers. Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he believed that “nothing is impossible with God.“ He obeyed!
We pray that like Joseph we may have the courage to obey God’s law even when it is difficult. Like Joseph we also pray that we may always have compassion in imposing the law. Most of all we pray that we may listen to our God who speaks to us in many ways, even in dreams.