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.' All this took place to fulfil what had been
spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
'Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel', which means, 'God is with us.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
I love this aspect of the Nativity, God's intervention in human behaviour. The most natural thing would be for Joseph to walk away from the whole situation. I don't believe he really needed a lot of persuasion to rescue Mary from all the embarrassment and possible persecution, nonetheless, God gives him a nudge in the right direction. I do wonder, however, just how much of the angel's story Joseph could comprehend and it may not have been until much later that he realised the implication of Jesus' birth. Was it when he discovered that Elizabeth was also pregnant, when prophecy was being fulfilled that they had to travel to Bethlehem, or when shepherds and wise men arrived with gifts? There are a variety of reactions when a child is adopted, is there a conflict between the birth parents and the adoptive parents? Each has a role, one is the nature and the other the nurture of a child. God handed over his son to be nurtured by Mary and Joseph, parents who would love, and teach faith, compassion and human understanding. We are all born to human parents, whilst also being children of God, taught by Jesus' example to have faith and follow God's way. During Advent we look to the 'Second Coming', a completion of God's work in us, that we may be perfectly acceptable to Him.
Lord God, just as Joseph accepted Jesus as his adoptive son, may I be welcoming of the unloved
and the different as children of God. Help me to welcome the unexpected challenges you give me,
that I may follow the faithful path and be worthy of my calling. Thank you Father for Jesus, who shows me the way. Amen.