Is this a Christmas Text?
The text for this fourth and final Sunday of Advent is Matthew 1: 18-25. This is the short passage that tells of Joseph’s response to Mary’s pregnancy. Honestly, this feels much more like a Father’s Day text than one in preparation for the birth of the Christ child. This tells the tale of Joseph a righteous man who could have exposed Mary to public disgrace but chooses not to. He intends to “dismiss her quietly”. This alone is magnanimous given the era. Public disgrace of a pregnancy not of your husband could result in death for Mary.
God Speaks to Joseph
God has other plans for Joseph and tells him of these plans in a dream. God lays it all out for Joseph. Joseph should marry Mary and recognize that her child is from the Holy Spirit. Then Mary will bear a son and He is to be named Jesus and will save His people. Matthew is direct that all of this is to fulfill what the prophet said would happen. This is consistent for Matthew, as he is the most Jewish of the Gospel writers and goes to the greatest lengths to tie Jesus to the Hebrew prophecies.
Joseph Listens, Do We?
Joseph, of course, listens to and obeys God out of his steadfast faith in our Lord. He takes Mary as his wife, she bears the baby, He is named Jesus, and Joseph loves Him as his own child. This is, if nothing else, proof that there is more to fatherhood and family than biology. The larger lesson as we begin our final preparation for the Feast of the Incarnation is that God calls us all to different tasks in response to our faith. Joseph was called to a very difficult task indeed, raising as his own a child not his. This is an extraordinarily grace filled act by one whose faith can edify and uplift in the most difficult of times. It is the gift of faith, exemplified by Joseph, that we celebrate at this time of year. This is what makes this an outstanding Christmas text. We may never be called to something as difficult as Joseph but using Joseph as an example, we too can believe and obey.
Praise Be to God