When we think of the nativity story often we tend to merge the two stories into one. Read the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. What is missing from the nativity story as you remember it? In today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew we are told how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. The difference from the Gospel of Luke is the emphasis is on Joseph and his response to the news of the coming birth of Jesus.
Sr. Mary M. McGlone gives insight into this passage:
Matthew tells us about Joseph not to prove the miracle of the virgin birth, but to reveal what it means to be a just person who is receptive to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of love. Matthew introduces us to Joseph as a man whose faith was strong enough to believe that God might be doing something he himself had never anticipated. In Joseph’s dilemma we see someone seek to be faithful when justice seems at odds with mercy. As he followed the command to take Mary home without regard for his reputation and the potential for scandal, Joseph demonstrated a rare combination of humility and strength. The way those two qualities intermingled in him combined into the virtue of fear of the Lord, a profound reverence that filled him with the conviction that God would guide them through it all.
Joseph’s choice had to be made at one particular moment, but his whole life had prepared him for it, and he would live its consequences for the rest of his days. Joseph could never have imagined the impact his decision would have on history. Isaiah would have never imagined how his prophecy would be used to calm the man called to give Emmanuel a home. None of us ever really know how far the effects of our choices will ripple. Rather, we can only hope that we, like Joseph, can be receptive to the Spirit’s inspirations. That’s
exactly what Paul is talking about in his letter to the Romans. Joseph understood it as being open to dreams; Paul calls it being holy.
In this fourth week of Advent, these readings invite us to pray for Joseph’s kind of openness to God’s unpredictable projects for our world. As we kindle our fourth candle let us pray that we might open our minds to see beyond our own dreams and schemes so that Emmanuel may be ever more present in us and through us.
I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas masses with you. Keep in mind that there will be no scheduled time for Confession on Saturday. We will be following our Christmas schedule rather than the usual weekend schedule.
Masses Saturday evening are at: 3:30, 5:30 and 10:00.
Mass Sunday is at 10:00 a.m.
If you are traveling this Christmas season, I pray that you reach your destination safely. I pray that all of us enjoy the people we are with and recognize God’s presence in our lives.