Sunday, March 18, 2012

Joseph, Legal Father of Jesus

Today's Reflections

Joseph, Legal Father of Jesus

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Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24

16Jacob [became] the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
18Now this is how the birthof Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed toJoseph, but before they lived together, she was found with childthrough the holy Spirit. 19Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20Suchwas his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to himin a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to takeMary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit thatthis child has been conceived in her. 21She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 24When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

BEFORE THEY LIVED TOGETHER.Marriage, for the Jews, takes place in three stages. First is theengagement. A professional matchmaker arranges the engagement betweenthe parents of the man and the parents of the woman. Second is thebetrothal. This is a formal exchange of consent between the couplearranged to be married made before witnesses. It constitutes a legallyratified marriage since it gives the young man rights over the girl.But the wife continues to live at her family home for about a year.Third is the marriage proper, celebrated with a wedding party. The mannow takes his wife home.

It is at the second stage of marriage(betrothal) that Mary is found to be with child. Though the Mosaic Lawallows him to charge her with adultery, Joseph is unwilling to put orexpose Mary to shame, that is, to place Mary in a public trial todetermine her innocence or guilt. Joseph decides to divorce herquietly. This is his frame of mind when he receives divine instructionsin a dream. Joseph submits himself to God’s plans. He dedicates hislife to the care of Mary and Jesus.

Ask the intercession of Saint Joseph
that you may love as fully as God wills you to love.