Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 18, 2016
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.”
Poor, speechless Saint Joseph! He doesn’t get to explain why he was afraid to take Mary as his wife—because she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Good Jew that he was, he was as afraid to marry Mary as he would be to enter the holy court of the temple. And her son, the long-awaited savior—you don’t get holier than that! “O Lord, I am not worthy.”
Joseph doesn’t get to defend himself against the sneer: “Some righteous man, all right: a quiet divorce, a hushed-up pregnancy. Mess solved.” In fact we’re sure of only one word spoken by Joseph, and it doesn’t even appear in this week’s Gospel (it’s in the next verse: Matthew 1:25). “What name do you give this child?” the circumciser asked. Joseph said: “Jesus”—that is, “Joshua,” meaning “YHWH helps, YHWH saves.”
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” Bring on the mess.
Holy Spirit, teach us to invoke the name of Jesus when we are afraid,
especially when we are afraid of the greatness to which you call us.
St. John Seminary