Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

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 discredit (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."

All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: God-with-us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home. So she gave birth to a son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph game him the name of Jesus.

I love Joseph. Mary gets so much attention - and rightfully so. Hers was an extraordinary leap of faith to trust that God could cause her to bear His son - to believe that it would happen to her just as the angel said - to believe and submit, even though "the world" would condemn her for being 'just another unwed teenage mother.' (Oh, maybe that was still a scandal, back in the day.)

I love Joseph, though, because he is one of those quiet, faithful leaders. Matthew describes him as upright (or righteous); he was righteous because he wanted to "do right by others and by God" - not because he kept the letter of the law perfectly. (although he may well have) I love that, though betrothed, he is referred as her husband; and she as his wife. I love that he deeply loved & respected Mary, evidenced by his desire to "in no way discredit/disgrace her."

I love that he pondered over this - probably prayerfully. While in prayer, God spoke to him. I love that God had big plans for Joseph in the birth & raising of Jesus. It was Joseph who was charged with naming Jesus. It was Joseph who gave Jesus his heritage as a "son of David," part of tribe of Judah, a root of Jesse's tree.

I love that Joseph did just as he was asked. We never hear a word uttered by Joseph, but we can learn much from his example. He wanted to do right by Mary and by God - without regard for himself. When given a message from God, he believed it and faithfully acted. Oh Joseph, you were the perfect husband for Mary and father for Jesus.

Commentary by Joan Chittister, OSB:

Mary is for us a sign of faith; Joseph, a sign of compassion.
Mary trusts God in every aspect of her life.
Joseph trusts the mercy and plan of God, as well.
Mary turns her life over to the will of God.
Joseph trusts that goodwill underlies human nature.
Her faith and his compassion are measures of our own.


  1. That was lovely! Merry Christmas!


  2. I've also been thinking on Joseph, again. It struck me more than ever that he very godly, and had a Christ-like spirit! (Good choice for the one to father Jesus) He was really righteous, wanting both justice and mercy. There is no mention of the harsher punishment that could have befallen Mary. Joseph chose to send away the wife he couldn't trust...and then decided to welcome her home because he trusted GOD. Rock on, Faithful Joseph.