This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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. Matthew 1: 18-19
As we continue to take a look at the people around Jesus’ birth and how waiting played an important part in the unfolding of God’s plans for their lives and for humanity we meet Joseph. For our look at Joseph, the adoptive father of Our Lord, we will review the Gospel according to Matthew, which gives us more information about our favorite Joe.
Remember how we talked about Mary’s hour of great anguish when she found out she was going to have a baby while she was pledged to be married to Joseph? Remember we talked about how bad that must have been for her, and how terrifying the whole thing had to have been? Well, now, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Can you imagine how it might have been for Joseph to receive the news?
I always find it a bit hard to put myself in the shoes of a man. I remember, when I was a little girl, I would go into my parents’ bedroom and go through their closets when they weren’t there. I know…how terrible of me! But, honestly, didn’t you also? Not even once? Anyway, maybe you didn’t, but o well, I did, and I’m sorry, but it was fun!
The thing is that I’ve always been a shoes and bags lady. I don’t have any money to indulge, but I’ve always admired shoes. So back then, I would try on my Mom’s shoes. They weren’t the cutest because she was not that young anymore…I was a winter baby…you know? She had me at 43 years old. Now that’s not old, but back in the 60s it was.
I digress again…
I tried on my Mom’s shoes, but then I also tried on my Dad’s. I did not like his shoes at all. They were WAY too big and boring. There was nothing about them that would qualify them as cute whatsoever. Now that I have two sons, I feel the same way. It is SO BORING to go shoe shopping with them. I mean, it is easy, because all they both want is Converse shoes, so I just go to the store, find the right size and pay the bill…done! But I feel bad for them. There is NO variety. I mean, you can go to the men’s side of the shoe store and they might have hundreds of shoes, but they are all the same! Big and boring…
My point is that I have a hard time relating to what a man goes through when it comes to picking shoes and enduring life. However, due to my experience dealing with people of the male persuasion, I can imagine Joseph’s reaction when Mary told him about her miraculous pregnancy. I imagine it went something like this:
Mary: O, Joseph, we need to talk.
Mary: I have to tell you something really important. Are you listening?
Joseph: yeah, what?
Mary: Well…I mean, it is REALLY huge! And you may be mad.
Joseph: just tell me!
Mary: mmm…well…you know? The other day…the funniest thing happened! You wouldn’t believe it! It was SO RANDOM…it was crazy! You know? It was like, LOCO!!!!
Joseph: Mary, what is it?
Mary: Here it goes, the other day, I was just minding my own business, you know, like doing some errands for my Mom and then, all of the sudden, I don’t even know where He, She, IT came from, I’m not even sure if it was a dream or what? But it wasn’t, because…I mean, really! An Angel came to me, you know? AN ANGEL, Joseph! REALLY, an ANGEL, and then, he said this crazy stuff, like I am blessed and highly favored, and then the best part! Are you ready? The most unbelievable thing, he said that I would have a baby, that I’m pregnant by the Holy Spirit of God and that the baby is the Messiah, so I’m pregnant and I’m having the Messiah and…
Joseph: wait…what??? What did you just say?
After that, this is just speculation here, I think Joseph might have broken into hives and cold sweats as he experienced sort of an out-of-body moment with a mixture of confusion, anger, disbelief and fear that moved him to make the decision to quietly divorce Mary, out of the love he still felt for her, so she wouldn’t suffer the full impact of the consequences of what everyone thought was an unpardonable offense.
Joseph had been waiting to finish the house he was building to share with Mary after the wedding. He had been waiting for the day his bride would become his wife. He had been waiting to start a family and raise sons of his flesh and bring them up in the knowledge of the Lord to pass on his name and his trade. He had been waiting for a nice, quiet life…when the unthinkable happened. His world was shaken and he found himself looking at things from an up-side-down position.
Like I said earlier, I have a hard time fitting in a man’s shoes…they are not easy to fill…
Tomorrow, we’ll see what happens with Joseph as God’s plan continues to unfold in unexpected ways.