What does one do when things don’t go as planned, or don’t seem to make sense? Ask
Joseph, the husband of Mary! In the narrative regarding the birth of Jesus in Matthew’s
gospel (1:18-25), we read that Mary is pregnant before her time. “Mary had been
engaged to Joseph” which means, according to Jewish custom, considered husband-
wife. But, “before they lived together”, i.e., before they consummated their marriage,
Mary “was found to be with child.” Houston, we have a problem! Not the thing to have
happen in first-century Judea: such unchasteness was punishable by stoning (cf.
Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10). Oh, dear Joseph, what you had to go through for the
sake of the Incarnation...
What was going through Joseph’s mind? Embarrassment? Anger? Shame? Is
Joseph thinking, “I thought I had married church lady!” I like to presume that Joseph
opted to go beyond what he may have initially felt, to gaze upon Mary with eyes of faith,
and to act accordingly. Faith leads to trust. Joseph trusted and wanted to give Mary to
the One to Whom she belongs. Contrary to what the cultural tendency may have been
at the time, Joseph knows in his heart that his love for Mary does not give him
ownership rights over her. Oh, dear Joseph, what you had to go through for the sake of
the Incarnation. Because of your faithfulness, however, you re-received Mary as a new,
Are we not invited, when things don’t go as planned, or don’t seem to make sense, to
trust with the same intensity as Joseph, and, as a result, to experience unexpected
blessings? Let us ask the Holy Spirit for such grace this Christmas.
Yours in Emmanuel,