This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
The Gospel heard on Sunday, the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, focuses us on Joseph, and his call to obedience to the will of God, to being ready to face dishonour in the eyes of his peers, and to trust in Mary who he fears has betrayed his trust.
As Mary said yes to what she could not understand, so Joseph too says ‘yes’ to what seemed irrational and disruptive of what is right and good.
Again and again, God calls us beyond what we can make sense of, and certainly beyond what we can control. And in this venture to the unkonwn we find a new security and safety, indeed the only security and safety that lasts. Our salvation is achieved by God’s gift and is ours when we ‘wake up. and do as the Lord invites. us to.
- What beyond reason has God called you to?
- What has helped you to answer God’s call into the unknown and the fearsome?
Shrine of St Joseph. Aylesford Priory. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.