The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.”
This week we hear Matthew’s story of Joseph and Mary – a young couple who find themselves in an impossible situation. “Before they came to live together, Mary was found to be with child”. Not so much an unusual event these days, but in the days of Mary and Joseph, this was a great family and religious crisis. It is also where we catch a glimpse of the greatness of Joseph and how his character became an obvious influence on Jesus.
When Mary was found to be pregnant before she lived with Joseph, this is what was meant to happen according to Jewish law: Joseph was supposed to take Mary to the door of her father’s house, and once there, her fellow citizens were to stone her to death. Imagine if Joseph was a man of the law, and did what he was supposed to do. What would you and I be doing tonight/today? There would be no Christmas story to tell, certainly not one as we know it. Instead, even before he has a dream of the angel, Joseph is loving and protective towards Mary, even at the expense of his own personal reputation. But then Joseph listens to a dream and he takes Mary into his home. Interestingly, in Luke’s gospel Mary receives the news from an angel; in Matthew’s gospel it is Joseph who receives the news of Jesus’ birth.
Even before Jesus was born, Joseph had given him an example of the power of love over the obligations of the law and the power of dreams over the limits of reality.
We don’t know much about Joseph, but when we look at Jesus, and how he lived his life, we can see traces of Joseph’s character. Joseph ignored the dictates of the Law in order to protect Mary. Time and again, Jesus ignores the details of the Law in order to reach out in love to others. He first learnt this from Joseph. Jesus knew that if Joseph had followed the Law, he would not have been born. He knew too that Joseph learnt to listen to and interpret his dreams – they were a guide for Joseph’s life and his decisions. Joseph learnt to trust these dreams. Jesus learnt to trust his dreams too – the dream of the good news, the dream of the Beatitudes, the dream of the Kingdom, even the impossible dream of the resurrection. Joseph’s common sense, his compassion and his faith allowed Emmanuel – God-with-us – to be born in our very midst. May this Joseph be a father for us as well, and like Jesus, may we inherit his goodness.
|Jan 13, 2017||4 Sunday of Advent 18.12.2016||Listen||Download|