Isaiah 7: 10-14 Romans 1: 1-7 Matthew 1: 18-24
As we move ever closer to the celebration of Christmas day, we are presented at this Eucharist with a significant but silent person who is an important part of the Christmas account that tells of God entering our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, has found himself in a very human situation and is confronted with a very serious dilemma.
A reflection of what is reported to us by Saint Matthew allows us to arrive at some insights. Joseph is aware of Mary’s own spiritual experience and what, in some fashion, she had come to know about her pregnancy. Joseph is aware of the teaching and expectations of his own religious tradition of the relationship between God and the Chosen People and the manner in which God had been understood as part of history of Jews. Joseph is fundamentally a man of faith, a just man, a righteous man, who knew the law and practice of his people. Joseph was genuinely troubled about circumstances which had arisen. He had a love and commitment to Mary. She was now pregnant so he weighs the consequences which have arisen, trying to resolve for himself this dilemma he faced.
What we can also recognize and appreciate is that Saint Matthew is not simply repeating some sort of pious story or legend. Rather, he is providing a sound lesson to us about the response that is given by a person of faith to a serious challenge that is faced in life.
In the earlier account we heard about Ahaz in the story from Isaiah, Ahaz faced the dilemma presented by an attack from his enemies. Isaiah tells him that he can be assured of God’s presence with him in this situation by the sign being offered: the conception of a son. But he was not willing to place firm faith or trust in God. On thr other hand, Joseph reflects the thoughts we heard today from Saint Paul. Paul acknowledges that all of the experiences in his life, coupled with his faith and trust in God made sense. God’s actions, his own faith and the response of those to whom he preached about the mystery and the realty of Jesus Christ revealed to him the depth and meaning of God’s loving plan for mankind. This, too, was the conclusion of Joseph as he accepted what was being asked of him.
God is with us, God will save us. This is the central truth that we recall in the example of firm faith and trust in this truth that is presented to us today. When we choose to be affected by this truth, to be affected by the depth and meaning of the Christmas event, God becoming man in Jesus Christ, we then give evidence of a willingness to follow the example given By Joseph. We then allow all aspects of our lives both those that are fortunate and those that are puzzling or challenging to reveal and reflect our own faith a trust in our good and gracious God.