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Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

The Word of God

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.

Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • What do we know about St Joseph? That he loved Mary so much that he suppressed his doubts about her chastity and allowed himself to be regarded as the father of her child, knowing that he wasn’t (when Jesus took the floor in the Nazareth synagogue [Luke 4,22], the begrudgers remarked: ‘Is not this the son of Joseph?’); that he brought up that child as his own, despite great difficulties and dangers, particularly at the start; that he taught him his trade; that he loved him; and that Jesus’ virile health as an adult (physical stamina, courage, strength of purpose and attractiveness to women, men and children) is proof of good parenting by his foster-father. Joseph is the obvious patron of adoptive fathers.
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    • A great quality of Joseph was his openness to God. Something happened in a dream that led him to trust in the call of God even in the strange circumstances of the pregnancy of his wife-to-be. Prayer is a time of deepening trust in God. This trust would deepen later in Joseph's daily work of being a foster-father to Jesus.
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    • The angel’s message came to Joseph in a time of deep distress and anxiety. Lord, when my problems seem heavy and impenetrable, May I recall that you are watching to help me even in the most unexpected circumstances. I must be still enough to hear the angel’s voice; courageous enough to act on it.
    • God, you give your help and guidance to those who trust in you. Where do I need your help and guidance today?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • We learn two essential things about Jesus in these few verses. Firstly, his origin is divine, yet he is part of humankind. Secondly, his mission is not simply to warn about sin as the prophets of Israel did. Instead, he will actually save the world from sin. Lord, help me to believe this promise.
    • Saint Luke tells the story of Jesus from Mary’s point of view. Saint Matthew tells it from Joseph’s. He is shown as an ordinary good Jew, obedient to the Law. God intervenes and shatters his life-expectations. He is called to a new level of obedience. Lord, am I open to letting you break in on my life? Do I listen to your dreams for me, which may help to change the world?
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    • This is a tense encounter. Mary, the protective mother, is reproachful. Jesus, on the cusp of adolescence, protests, "Stop worrying. I'm old enough to look after myself."
    • Lord, as I watch, I pray for parents who are trying to temper protectiveness with trust, and for adolescents who are impatient to grow.
    • Joseph is presented in the gospels as the man of faith. Dreams and other communications gave him the impetus to know and then to do what God wanted, even when human constraints were strong against it. Faith was both listening and doing. Joseph's trust in what God would do through and with him grounded a willingness to do what God wanted. Prayer introduces us into the atmosphere of God's will for us. It is the space where trust can grow.
    • We know little of Joseph except that he faithfully looked after Mary and Jesus. He is the patron of carers - in love, and work he cared for his dearest ones. He was a man of faith who learned from the angels of God what was needed of him, and did the same. Jesus did he did, and found some of the best qualities in his life from the people he grew up with - Joseph and Mary. Prayer can remind us of how we have been 'grown' into faith and love by the faith and love of others.
    • Sometimes we idealise the holy family to such an extent that we forget that Mary and Joseph had to contend with all the problems that face any family, especially one with teenage sons. Jesus experienced the normal physical, sexual, psychological and intellectual development of any young person, but after two thousand years what that experience meant for him is completely hidden from us. However, there is no doubting the positive influence that Mary and Joseph played in his human development.
    • Today I thank God for Mary and Joseph, and I pray for all parents especially those struggling with problem children.
    • We see Joseph as sensitive person, careful not to bring dishonour on Mary and attending to the message of his dreams. There may be situations I need to avoid and conditions I need to create to become more sensitive to the quiet movements of God's spirit.
    • Joseph did not have much to go on but trusted his intuition, discerning in it hand of God. I consider where in my life I have been blessed by trusting in God.
    • Joseph showed discretion even though he might well have felt wronged. I think of how he waited, considering what God had to say before he acted.
    • I pray for the restraint I need when I am tempted to act impulsively.