“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife… and Joseph named Him Jesus.”
Matthew 1:20-21;24-25b, NLT
4th Sunday in Advent: “We All Matter!”
Advent offers us the assurance that everything in God’s divine plan is important, and does matter. This is especially important when we consider Joseph, and what often is over looked about him. Much attention is placed on Joseph’s willingness to rescind the engagement with Mary upon learning of her pregnancy. Perhaps we look at Joseph’s decision as one would, in our current day. The truth is, it’s not what it appears to be. Given the complicated custom of that ancient time, Joseph sought more to “protect” Mary from the acrimony and taunts of others who would have assumed she became pregnant out of marriage. In Mary’s case, complicating matters was the fact that she and Joseph did not live together before marriage. The betrothal (engagement) period forbade co-habitation. The scripture mentions the sanctity of marriage, and alludes to the ancient custom (cf. Hebrews 13:4, NLT). Nowhere in Matthew’s account does Joseph appear to be distrusting of Mary. Rather, we see evidence of him wrestling with his conscience, for the sake of the woman he loves. In a dream, Joseph is given divine assurance that he also, has been chosen to participate in God’s great work of redemption; by becoming the earthly father of the child, who is to be called Jesus. Joseph is given the high honor of “naming” the child-Savior. He does so, and is wed to Mary. God permitted Jesus to share Joseph’s linage as well. We too, “matter” in God’s plan!