Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a (or Luke 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.
“he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.”
In both the Gospel nativity narratives, Joseph and Mary were betrothed when Mary was discovered to be pregnant. Luke recounts Mary’s side of the story, while Mat- thew focuses on Joseph. In his story, the discovery of Mary’s pregnancy precedes any divine reassurance, thus presenting Joseph with a terrible dilemma. According to the law, Mary should be stoned to death. But Joseph, “being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame” (a delicate reference to the alternative), resolves to divorce her quietly. Fortunately, an angel appears in Joseph’s sleep to explain the source of Mary’s condition, and he is apparently satisfied. We have become accustomed to the happy, and seemingly inevitable, outcome of this story. In that light, it is good to stop and consider Joseph’s extraordinary leap of faith, which silently echoes Mary’s prayer, “Let it be done to me according God’s will.” Note well: Joseph was reassured in a dream. On that basis he decides to spare his betrothed and her unborn child the penalty of the law. Thus,
Jesus’ very birth is a triumph of faith over the cruel letter of the law.
A silent figure throughout the Gospel, Joseph utters no words to correspond to Mary’s heartfelt prayer. His actions, however, reflect the same faithful consent to a plan beyond his understanding.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019