Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Joseph - a righteous personSt. Mathew 1: 18-23
Vs. 19, Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so, he made plans to break the engagement privately.
The text is focused on Joseph’s righteousness and his response towards God’s economy on human salvation. Mary’s miraculous conception is announced by Angel of God as a fact without any explanation. “She found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit” (vs.18) Betrothal was equivalent to marriage; dishonesty counted as adultery. To Joseph, the pregnancy is a violation of social convention and ethics for an unmarried woman. He decides to divorce Mary secretly. Perhaps out of kindness, or regret, he will do this quietly in order not to shame her. Angel of God had appeared to Joseph in a dream while he was sleeping. Angle said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Vs. 20,21) The perception of Joseph was totally changed after the instruction he has received from God, even though he has not fully understood the salvation act of God. He humbled himself to have a risk-taking journey with Mary for the redemption of humanity. That is why the text noted Joseph as a righteous person. Let us meditate on the different dimensions of righteousness embedded in his personality.
Joseph was a man who held a counter imagination: God’s work often upsets comfortable social expectations and conventions. Sometimes it may go beyond human imaginations and rationality. Somehow Joseph has to trust this strange news that this child is from the Holy spirit. One needs to imagine about what it means to be saved from sins by an infant who lies in a manger. God did not appear to Joseph directly. There is only a dream. The dream, however, was enough for Joseph. We have to inculcate some sort of imagination to see the counter action of God in history.
Joseph was a man who held counter ethics: Joseph is described as an ethical person. This means that he must divorce his unfaithful wife; the Jewish law does not allow him to leave her unpunished. His ethical attitude, however, is more than legal. He does not want to humiliate Mary with a public divorce proclaiming her adultery. He went beyond the parameter set by the society. His inner-consciousness was controlled by counter ethical values which empowered him to embrace Mary in her vulnerability.
Joseph was a man who followed counter practice: He had shown the courage to stand with Mary in her humiliating period of crisis. It was against the practice of the then society. Joseph had made an initiative to have a counter practice based on affection and solidarity.
Gracious Lord, provide your strength and courage to be righteous in our day - today life practices. Enable us to have good imagination and ethical perspective to dream a better world
Thought for the Day
Unexpected things, things outside of convention can often be wonderful signs that God is at work.
Rev. Oommen V. Varkey, Tiruvalla, Kerala