Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Family prepared for the Son

“When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Lest the impious amongst us say that the situation in which St. Joseph and Our Lady found themselves is similar to many young couples in our times who procreate first before getting married, allow me to make it clear from the beginning that Mary was with child not because she engaged in pre marital intercourse with St. Joseph. Rather, she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and remained a virgin. Our Creed professes that Jesus Christ “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” In fact, the virginity of our Lady was emphasized four times in today’s reading: first it said: “before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Second, the angel told St. Joseph in a dream: “It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Third, this event was shown as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son.” Fourth, the reading’s conclusion was: “Joseph had no relations with her until she bore a son.” No where in the Bible could the Virginity of Mary be more emphasized than in this text.

Contrary to the immediate perception of many, St. Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary was not due to any suspicion of infidelity on her part. Surely, when asked for an explanation about her pregnancy, Our Lady would have told him of the apparition of the Archangel Gabriel. Difficult as it may have been, St. Joseph took Mary’s word because were it be otherwise, he would definitely not have decided to “divorce her quietly.” He had no doubts about her integrity. Obviously, God had plans for his would-be wife for the unlikely combination of both virginity and motherhood in one and the same woman was definitely a sign of a calling to some eminent greatness. And so, St. Joseph decided to walk away because he saw himself as a possible hindrance to whatever plan God had for our Lady. St. Joseph steps aside in order to give God absolute freedom to bring his plan into fulfillment. He thought he had no place in this plan.

But the angel said to him in a dream: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” God did not want St. Joseph to walk away because there was a place for him in this plan. God wanted St. Joseph to marry our Lady and exercise the full responsibility of fatherhood over the child to be born of her. In other words, God wanted St. Joseph to form a family. I hope that you see the pattern: God created a world for his Son; God chose a people for his Son; and now, God forms a human family for his Son. A world, a nation, and a family – such were the preparations God made for the incarnation of his only Son. And the family in which his Son will be born should be formed on the very foundation on which all human families are built: the foundation of marriage. Thus, the angel tells St. Joseph not to fear to take Mary as his wife. This admonition St. Joseph took seriously as the Scripture said: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took his wife into his home.”

The Son of God would live in a human family on earth as He lived in a communion of Divine Persons in heaven. Both the Trinity and the Holy Family would be counterparts of each other in the life of Jesus who is truly Divine and truly human. The Blessed Trinity is the communion of Divine Persons to which the Son of God belongs. The Holy Family is the communion of human persons to which the Incarnate Word would belong. In the one Person of the Son of God made man the Divine community of the Blessed Trinity and the human community of the Holy Family would encounter and mingle with each other. Jesus, who is God, is not alone – He is with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, who is Man, is also not alone – He belongs to the family of Joseph and Mary.

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