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, ‚ÄúJoseph, 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.‚Äù All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‚ÄúLook, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call him Immanuel,‚Äù
which means, ‚ÄúGod is with us.‚Äù When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. (Mt 1:18-25)
The mother of one of my co-workers is a member of my church. She is a fine Christian lady‚Äîsmart, pleasant, and obviously a person of deep faith. I have joked to Dave that he chose a great mom! But wouldn‚Äôt it be nice if we could choose our parents? We would comb the world for just the right couple. We would make sure they were kind, just, loving, and patient. The cruel, the rigid, and the irresponsible need not apply.
The incarnation represents the only time in history that anyone ever got to handpick his parents. While Luke‚Äôs Gospel focuses on Mary, Matthew highlights Joseph. In particular, Matthew wanted us to know that Joseph was ‚Äúa righteous man.‚Äù He wanted to do right by God and by Mary, even after hearing the distressing news that his fianc?©e was pregnant‚Äîand he was not the father. He might have made a public spectacle of Mary, but instead he thought it best to divorce her quietly.
Then the angel appeared with words of assurance that Mary‚Äôs incredible story was true. Joseph responded immediately, as only a righteous person can do. It would be hard to stand by Mary amid the rumors that certainly would have circulated in the town of Nazareth. Doing the right thing is rarely easy. It takes kindness, justice, love, and patience. Thankfully, Joseph (and Mary!) had these traits in abundance.
God chose well.
O Immanuel, God present in our midst,
long awaited Savior and King:
come and save us, O Lord our God.