Friday 19 March 2021

Bible Book:

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. (v. 24)

Matthew 1:18-25 Friday 19 March 2021

Psalm 89:26-36


It is the feast day of Saint Joseph today so we have  a change of focus. The readings this week have concentrated on Jeremiah’s faith and the uncomfortable things he felt compelled to do for God. Today’s Bible reading fast-forwards 600 years to the birth of Jesus, and focuses specifically on the part that Joseph has in the incarnation story and his obedience to what God “commanded him” (v. 24). It wasn’t easy to do what God was asking, so again today we honour a man who was willing to 'go against the flow' of public expectation in order to follow a higher authority.

The fact that Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph had lived together would obviously have caused more than a few raised eyebrows in the neighbourhood. What, as “a righteous man”(v. 19), was Joseph to do? Matthew writes that he “planned to dismiss her quietly”(v. 19) to save her from public disgrace, which appears to have been an honourable decision in that culture. It is important to note the genealogy in Matthew 1: 1-17, which precedes today’s reading and which establishes the authority of Joseph by tracing his blood line back through David to Abraham. Joseph is indeed an honourable and God-fearing Jew.

The rest of the story is well known. Joseph is persuaded by an angel, in a dream, not to dismiss Mary, but take her as his wife. The baby in the womb will become the saviour of the world, named Jesus; or Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'.

Joseph’s subsequent nurturing role as foster-father for Jesus suggests a caring, forgiving and loving parent. We see evidence for this in the flight to Egypt; the return to Israel and to Galilee; his response to Jesus as a 12-year old in the Temple in Jerusalem; and in the way he allows the apprentice carpenter to leave and do God’s chosen work.

Joseph, not mentioned a lot in the gospels,  is a vital role-model for Jesus. Above all, he is a man who was willing to defy the norms of society to do  what he believed God wanted. Once again this week, let us give thanks for such humbling examples of faithfulness.


To Ponder: 

  • Verse three of Andrew Pratt’s hymn "We see the eyes of Mary shine" (219 in Singing the Faith) contains such wonder at a new birth. It speaks of awesome responsibility; of the potential that is embodied in every child; the acknowledgement that every child, and therefore every parent, will encounter joys and sorrows along the way. This may be the appropriate time to remember all those involved in 'home schooling', who might have found the dual role of parent and teacher to be a mixed blessing!
  •  Remember in your prayers today all parents of young children and the difficulties they have experienced during the pandemic and lockdown. Remember especially those whose special gifts have enabled them to foster or adopt children.
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