The Gospel: Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
Today’s Gospel shows again the cost of Joseph’s decision to take Mary and Jesus into his guardianship.
For Joseph, looking back over those months - taking Mary into his home - travelling to Bethlehem with a heavily pregnant wife - the worry of having her give birth in what was in effect a shed at the back of an inn - the confusion of visitors ranging from shepherds to wise men - the events in today’s Gospel must have felt like the final straw.
An angel appears -and again the message is not what he would want to hear - more travelling - more worry - more struggling to make a living to support his new family.
Matthew sees the events as fulfilling prophecy - but it is unlikely that Joseph felt that he was part of the Greatest Story ever told. It is far more likely that he was often confused - and under considerable stress - and unsure of what was happening.
In spite of that - and, perhaps evidence of his great faith, he continues to protect Mary and her baby - and to respond to dreams and visions that do not make sense.
In this, he reminds us of another Joseph who had dreams and who ended up in Egypt - though under very different circumstances. Here was another Joseph whose dreams seemed to land him in trouble when he was sold into slavery in Egypt- but who, in the end was shown to be one of God’s chosen.
The reference to Egypt also reminds of the great Exodus from Egypt led by Moses - the transition from slavery to freedom. - to the creation of a new people of God.
These are great Biblical echoes - visions and messages from God - liberation - victory - foundation of a new chosen people. All these images were to find new fulfilment in the child in Joseph’s care - in Jesus.
Joseph may have sensed some of the greatness of the story of which he was part - but this did not exempt him from the day-to-day responsibilities of providing for Jesus and His mother.
We too are part of a great story - though we may not always be too aware of it.
Sometimes we - like Joseph - need to listen for angels...
What does it mean for me?
Angels don’t always look like angels - but every so often we meet someone - or hear something that speaks of something glorious. We can’t always see it for ourselves but somehow the presence of this person - or event - helps us to believe in it....
Have you met an angel?