This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.
While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, «Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him “Jesus” for he will save his people from their sins». All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: «The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: “God-with-us”». When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home.
God gives to each and every one of us the signs, according our capacities and limits. We are called to interpret, understand and act upon these signs. It’s quite possible that we may fail in our discernment. God does gives us another opportunity to correct it and accompanies us in our decision making process.
Yesterday we were called to mediate on the genealogy of Jesus, His humanity and the way God has chosen to participate in our humanity, which is weak, limited, and sinful, etc. Today, we are invited to see not only the divine intervention, but also, how man can cooperate in the accomplishment of divine will.
God did wait for the YES of Mary, and will give the same freedom to Joseph to act upon. It is in this human freedom that God expresses His love for us. Without imposing His will, He desires that the humanity appropriates the divine will, as his own, and act in his humanity, divinely.
It is in this freedom and humanity that Mary and Joseph have become exceptional in accomplishing the divine will. God has chosen them as the parents of Jesus, where the humanity will be nourished by simple human freedom and engagement, and the divinity will be expressed by divine intervention and grace. God wishes that this infusion of divinity happens in the humanity, by our cooperation, filled with compassion and mercy (like Joseph and Mary), and at the same time, by the divine grace. For that we too have to accept the divine will as our own (though we may find it difficult, just like Mary) and act in our humanity divinely, like Joseph.
Action of the Day: Be compassionate and merciful.
«Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, the liturgy of the Word invites us to think of the wonderful example St. Joseph gives us. He was extremely sensitive towards Mary, his betrothed.
There is no doubt that both were excellent people, in love with each other like no other couple. However, it is plain to see that the Almighty wanted their love to go through some very demanding circumstances.
The Pope saint John Paul II has written that «Christianity is a surprise from a God who has taken sides with his creature». As a matter of fact, He has taken the initiative: To come to this world He has not waited for us to deserve it. He proposes His initiative; He does not impose it upon us: It is as though God asked us for “permission”. To Mary He proposed —never imposed anything!— the vocation of being the Mother of God: «He, who had the power to create everything from nothing, had refused to rebuild what had been desecrated if Mary had not agreed to it» (Saint Anselm).
But God, not only is asking us for permission, He also wants us to take part in His plans, to make a heroic contribution. And so it was for Mary and Joseph. In fact the Christ-child needed parents. Even more so: He needed his parent's heroism, for they had to go to extremes to defend the life of the “little Redeemer”.
What is really beautiful is that Mary revealed only a few details of her childbearing: Such an important fact is reported in just two verses (cf. Lk 2:6-7). On the other hand, she was more explicit when speaking of Joseph's thoughtfulness towards her. The fact was that «before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit» (Mt 1:19), and in order not to risk discrediting her, he would have preferred to disappear discretely and to renounce her love (something that was socially unfavorable to him). Thus, before the law of charity had been proclaimed, Saint Joseph was already practicing it: Mary (and his loving attentions with her) was his law.