December 18

Matt 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus

Thomas a Kempis said: “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.”

Today’s gospel we hear about St. Joseph. In the New Testament and in the story of Christmas, St. Joseph plays a minor role. Nothing is recorded about what he said after the angel of God asked him to not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife after he found out that Mary was pregnant. He disappeared from the gospel scene before Jesus is baptized and is never heard again.

Even if we could not find any written word of St. Joseph in the gospel, his character stands out. Today’s gospel, St. Matthew reveals to us a new understanding of what it means to be righteous before God. For the Jews to be righteous means following the law to the very last detail. In fact, the Pharisees believed and taught that if every Jew would just follow the law God had given to Moses, the Kingdom of God would be realized. St. Matthew makes St. Joseph as an example of this new understanding of what it means to be righteous before God. The evangelist calls St. Joseph a righteous man or he is one who is good and has a good rapport with God. As a good Jew, the law obliged him to report Mary to the authorities who would hand down judgment for Mary to be stoned to death. Instead of reporting Mary to the authorities, he decided to leave Mary secretly because he did not want her to be put to shame. This is the reason why St. Matthew calls St. Joseph a righteous man. This is the new meaning of being righteous, that is, to be sensitive to the needs of our neighbor, to let our heart bleed for our neighbor and to love our neighbor.

Another meaning of his being righteous is that St. Joseph obeys the will of the Father. He takes Mary as his wife. He says, “Yes” to God’s plan to be the only legal father of the Child to be born. According to a certain priest that his yes is necessary to give the Child a name and adopt Him as his own and as a loving foster father, protect the Child from any harm.

In this Advent season, we are invited to reflect on our own sensitivity to the needs of others and our obedience to the will of the Father. We must learn from St. Joseph to become men and women for others and obedient children of God. And so righteous person is the one who makes these words of Jesus as his/her guiding principle: “Whatever you do to the least of your brothers/sisters, you do it also to me.” Jesus has identified himself with our neighbor, let us always remember.

At the end let us listen to these words coming from Glenda Fulton Davis: “It’s not always easy to smile and be nice when we are called to sacrifice. It’s not always easy to put others first especially when tired and feeling our worst. It’s not always easy to do the Father’s will. It wasn’t so easy to climb Calvary’s hill. But we as His children should learn to obey and not seeking our own but seeking His way. It’s not always easy to fight the good fight. But it is always good and it is always right!”

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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