Advent Reflection 12/22/14
At first glance, it seems like Joseph had it made. His wife and son were the only two sinless people that ever walked the earth. Sure, that was a lot for Joseph to live up to, but it must have cut down on family quarrels!
Taking a closer look, though, you can see that Joseph’s life was a challenging one. Learning that the woman to whom he was betrothed was pregnant with someone else’s baby had to be quite the blow to his ego. Then, when Mary had almost reached the end of her pregnancy, he had to help her travel on foot some 100 miles to Bethlehem. They Holy Family was just getting comfortable when Joseph was prompted by a dream to pick up and move to Egypt. When it was safe to do so, he brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel.
In addition to the challenge of moving without the benefit of U-Haul, each of these moves required Joseph to re-establish his construction business, finding new clients and demonstrating the quality of his work, in order to provide for his family. So, we learn from Joseph that even if you have a perfect family, that doesn’t mean life is going to be easy.
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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
We don’t hear a lot about Joseph in the gospels, but the little that we hear gives us strong insight into his character. We know that he was righteous and obedient, following the Lord’s instructions to take Mary as his wife and to name his son Jesus. He was respectful of Mary. He planned to divorce her quietly, which would have allowed the father of her child to step forward and take her as his wife, thus sparing her from shame.
Let’s strive this Christmas season and throughout the coming year to follow Joseph’s example of righteousness, obedience, and respect for other people.