Advent Reflection #18
Joseph often gets overlooked. Next to the great sacrifice of Mary, wise men/kings traveling oh so far from the East, shepherds, and angels, Joseph seems downright ordinary. And yet Joseph is a big part of this. How might you react if your soon-to-be wife, who you have definitely not slept with turns up pregnant? What’s more, she claims that the was not unfaithful – that it’s actually God’s child! It might take more than the appearance of an angel to smooth things over, right?!
According to Matthew, when Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant, he responded well. He was determined to not humiliate her or make a fuss, but to instead simply dismiss her quietly. Such was not the custom. His friends and family would have likely encouraged him to lead in the humiliation, and ultimately in the stoning of Mary. You see society – even God’s people Israel – saw her as Joseph’s property, to be treated as he pleased. But Joseph saw something more. He saw a child of God.
It’s only then, after Joseph responds in grace, that the angel of the Lord interrupts his sleep and appears to him, explaining the full situation to him. “Your fiancé is to bear the long-awaited Messiah,” the angel says. “This is God’s doing.” “This baby is Emmanuel – God with us!” And so, Joseph took Mary as his own, took responsibility for the baby, and raised the baby.
A devotional I read says this, “there is a model here for making decisions and dealing with doubts. Pray about it, carry it as a question, pester God about it. This is the story of Joseph’s utterly unique vocation, as foster-father of the Son of God.”
What can you learn about Joseph’s kindness to Mary, and his willingness to respond slowly, in prayer, paying extra attention to the Lord? Joseph would not have been able to respond as he did, were he not truly open to God. The same is surely true of us.
Speak to us Lord God. Help us, like Joseph, to receive your Son Jesus.