( A Commentary on Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a)
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a)
In today’s Gospel, we read Matthew describing the news of Mary’s pregnancy from Joseph’s perspective. It is tempting to gloss over the words of this Gospel and talk about Joseph being a man of great faith in God.
But I think there is much more here. Joseph presents us with the ultimate guide to character as well as living a life of faithfulness to God.
His character offers each of us a glimpse in how we can better live out our lives whether parent or not.
Remember that Joseph had to live out his life no differently than we do. He had to contend with the dynamic of family life, he had to contend with earning a living as a carpenter and, most of all, he knew the joys and the pains of caring for people he loved.
Through all of this, he lived a life that was replete with faith, love, courage, obedience, tenderness and respect.
His faith, of course, is best exemplified by his trusting in God and accepting Mary as his wife. That is not to be minimized but it is something which is often discussed.
His love of Mary and Jesus is a beautiful example to us. That love propelled him to always act in the best interest of both. Scripture is full of those instances in the early life of Jesus where Joseph had to act out of love to protect them and to be sure that he would do all that he could to assure their safety. We are each called to live a life of love – not just of those in our immediate family but in the family of humankind.
His courage is not just exemplified by his acceptance of God’s will in accepting Mary’s pregnancy but in so many other instances – his journey to Bethlehem, his return trip after the birth of Jesus, his search in the temple for his young son that was missing. In each situation, Joseph never gave in but journeyed on. For us, it is a reminder that we cannot give in, that we can’t blame others, that we need to move always toward the light of God’s love.
His tenderness stands in stark juxtaposition to the harshness of his world and even to our world today. In the macho culture of then and now, Joseph reminds us that to show love, to exhibit care, to be compassionate, to admit our dependence on God and to each other is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Tenderness is not reserved to a gender but rather is a hallmark of an integrated and spiritual human being.
His respect for his wife and his family speaks volumes to a modern-day world where too many are diminished by society and by individuals. We see the work of evil in the manner in which some men treat women. We see the work of evil in the manner in which people of color are discriminated. We see the work of evil in the heinous crimes of child abuse. We too often forget that every living human being is a creation of God and that no one of us should ever forget that.
His obedience to God offers us a parallel for our lives. When the disappointments of life wear us down, when personal tragedy befalls us, when the beauty of life is obscured by darkness, we often doubt the presence of God. But it is faith and the belief that if we remain obedient to His plan, we will be given the strength to move beyond.
All of these characteristics – and more – provide a measuring stick for how well we are living our faith.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you came to free us from the power of sin, fear, and death, and to heal and restore us to wholeness of life. May I always trust in your saving help, guidance, wisdom, and plan for my life.”
The Lord guides and strengthens all who trust in him.
Are you ready to put your trust in the Lord to give you his help and guidance in fulfilling your responsibilities? God gives strength and guidance to those who seek his help, especially when we face trials, doubts, fears, perplexing circumstances, and what seems like insurmountable problems and challenges in our personal lives. God our heavenly Father has not left us alone, but has given us his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be our savior, teacher, lord, and healer. Where do you need God’s help, strength, and guidance? Ask the Lord to increase your faith and trust in his promises and in his guiding hand in your life.