I’ve been thinking about Joseph. We sing about baby Jesus, Mary, shepherds and their flocks, three kings of Orient, a drummer boy and a host of angels. But we don’t typically strike many notes in honor of Joseph. It’s not just the songs, either. In the Bible, we only read of his reaction to the news of Mary’s pregnancy in Matthew. The only other Gospel to write of the Christ birth, Luke, doesn’t mention Joseph until the young couple is packing their bags for Bethlehem. He’s almost the forgotten man in the Christmas story. Yet, Joseph has a lot to teach us.
Respect and Honor
When Joseph first learns of Mary’s pregnancy he contemplates divorce. Matthew tells us that Joseph was faithful to the law, but because he did not want to disgrace Mary, he plans to do so quietly. Surely he was hurt and angry. His betrothed is pregnant. The baby isn’t his and she’s trying to convince him the child was conceived by the Holy Ghost. How many of us would handle things quietly so as not to disgrace her? How often do we, in our angry and wounded place, lash out, or even go public with our story? Joseph, on the other hand, remains respectful. What an amazing role model!
Matthew tells us that the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and discloses God’s plan. As much as I hope I’d have the faith to accept such a divine dream at face value, I wonder if doubt would nag at me. Not Joseph, however. After waking, he takes Mary home as his wife. Joseph placed his trust in faith and through that, he placed his trust in his wife. Can we say the same?
God-Centered Life and Marriage
You might say it’s hard not to keep God at the center of your marriage when your first born is the Messiah. Yet, before young Jesus spoke his first word, Joseph and Mary were faithful. They took their infant son to temple for the purification rites as prescribed by Mosaic Law. Joseph accepts, on blind faith, the instructions of another angel dream to move his infant son and wife to Egypt and later to Nazareth. It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day and lose focus on God at the center of our lives and our relationships. Joseph’s faith is an example to us.