Tuesday - 3rd Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Lord, faithful God,
in Jesus you have given us someone
taken from our human flesh and blood,
a man, yet your Son,
through whom you want to restore
integrity and fidelity among us.
Help us to give with him,
to you and also to one another,
the proper and adequate response
of faithful, serving love,
which you expect from your people.
Be our God for ever
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 1, 18-24
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.'
Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
• In Luke’s Gospel the story of the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Luke) is centred around the person of Mary. Here in the Gospel of Matthew the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew)is centred around the person of Joseph, the promised spouse of Mary. Joseph was of the descent of David. Through him Jesus belongs to the race of David. Thus in Jesus, are fulfilled the promises made by God to David and to his descendants.
• As we have seen in yesterday’s Gospel, in the four women, companions of Mary, in the genealogy of Jesus, there was something abnormal which did not correspond to the norms of the Law: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Today’s Gospel shows us that Mary was also somewhat abnormal, contrary to the Laws of that time. In the eyes of the people of Nazareth she appeared being pregnant before living with Joseph. Neither the people nor the future husband knew the origin of this pregnancy. If Joseph had been just according to the justice of the Scribes and the Pharisees, he should have denounced Mary, and the penalty which she would have suffered would have been death, stoning her.
• Joseph was just, yes, but his justice was different. Already beforehand he practiced what Jesus would teach later on: “If your uprightness does not surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5, 20). This is why, Joseph not understanding the facts and not wanting to repudiate Mary, decided to leave her in secret.
• In the Bible, the discovery of the call of God in the facts of life, takes place in different ways. For example, through the meditation of the facts (Lk 2, 10.51), through the meditation of the Bible (Acts 15, 15-19; 17, 2-3), through the angels (the word angel means messenger), who helped to discover the significance of the facts (Mt 28, 5-7). Joseph succeeded in perceiving the significance of what was taking place in Mary by means of a dream. In his sleep an angel uses the Bible to clarify the origin of Mary’s pregnancy. It came from the action of the Spirit of God.
• When everything was clear for Mary, she says: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word!” When everything was clear for Joseph, he takes Mary as his spouse and they went to live together. Thanks to the justice of Joseph, Mary was not put to death, was not stoned and Jesus continued to live in her womb.
4) Personal questions
• In the eyes of the Scribes, the Justice of Joseph would be a disobedience. Is there a message for us in this?
• How do you discover the call of the Word of God in the facts of your life?
5) Concluding Prayer
For God rescues the needy who calls to him,
and the poor who has no one to help.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the needy from death. (Ps 72,12-13)