Fourth Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Matthew1: 18-24
For a man like Joseph to discover that the woman to whom he is betrothed is expecting a baby is hard enough. To find that the only explanation she can give is that it is a child conceived through the Holy Spirit must have been totally humiliating.
In the society of the time, the situation was deeply shameful for the woman - her husband-to-be - and the whole family.
Joseph could have made the situation even worse by bringing even greater shame on Mary and her family - but, as Matthew says, he was a man of honour and even in these circumstances, wanted to treat Mary with kindness.
His dignity and his desire to protect Mary from public humiliation must have been a significant factor in the appearance of the angel in his dream. As always, the angel’s first greeting is “Do not be afraid...”
When God intervenes in human history, it is almost always in ways that make no sense at all to those involved.
For Joseph, the honour of welcoming the Son of God into his home comes under the guise of receiving his betrothed and her illegitimate son. As far as the world was concerned that is what he had done - but Joseph believed the angel - and, through the angel, Mary and knew that he was entering a mystery that he would never be able to explain - even to himself.
His kindness and generosity enabled Mary and the child Jesus to have protection and security during the early years of his life. Joseph trained him in the family trade of carpentry well enough for Jesus to make a living well into His adult life.
It says much for the relationship between Joseph and Jesus that, when Jesus is trying to explain His relationship with God, He uses the name He would have used as a toddler for Joseph - “abba” (dada or daddy)
What does it mean for me?
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