Joseph's Dilemma

17 December 2018

Joseph’s Dilemma

Matthew’ s account of the early phase the of the imminent coming of the long-awaited Messiah has I feel an important message for all of us. First, he sets the historical background in v1:1-17. This is an important factor in relating God’s relationship to Human kind and the coming of the Messiah.
Matthew then comes to the very human aspect of this wondrous event.
“Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph but before they came together she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” v18.
Now Joseph had no knowledge of this information about the Holy Spirit’s involvement. Imagine his shock. His disbelief, his disappointment and his rising anger when he realised that his bride to be, was already pregnant.
This was the beautiful, young girl he had chosen to marry innocent, good, pure as he had supposed. What had gone wrong? How was he so deceived? Perhaps in his mind he vented his anger on her parents. Why had they not protected her? Did they know who had abused her? Where they just using him, hoping he would cover up the scandal for her and themselves by going ahead with the marriage? We can imagine the turmoil in Joseph’s mind.
But Joseph was a holy man and, in his distress, he turned to God and the Mosaic Law. Matthew explains:
“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace he had in mind to divorce her quietly”
Was this a loophole in the law which Joseph felt justified in using we wonder? However, it seemed to restore to some extent his peace of mind for he was able to go to bed and sleep. At this point God intervened and sent an angel to visit him in a dream with the following message:
Joseph do not be afraid to take home Mary as you wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name of Jesus because he will he will save his people from their sins.
When Joseph woke he was delighted to do what the angel told him. Yet we are left with the question. Why was he put through this stress? Who knows or understands the ways of God? One answer that satisfies me is what gave rise to this reflection. Josephs response to the discovery of Mary pregnancy has I feel an important message for all of us.
We could never be in Joseph’ situation but how often have we felt very angry, judgemental, unjustly treated, misunderstood whether justified or not. Let us look again at Joseph’s response. His anger and hurt were justified. We do not know how long he battled with his feelings before he turned to God and the Scriptures. What we do know is that he found calm, peace and a possible solution to his situation. It was when he was calm and asleep that God intervened and revealed His momentous plans for him. Let us follow Joseph’s example when we are stressed.
Sr. Camilla