Today is the start Section 3:
The Spouse of Mary
“But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.”
You are at a party, maybe a couple’s shower or wedding that your wife insisted you attend, while your favorite sports team is playing in a pivotal game. Your DVR is set, and you anxiously await the chance to get home to watch everything play out. Suddenly, another unwilling male attendee loudly announces the final score of the game that you are looking forward to watching in its entirety. How does this change the way you perceive the drama and play-by-play of the game later? Does knowing the end change the way you experience it? Unfortunately, this is how we read the Scriptures. We know what comes next, and how the Old Testament ends with the anticipation and coming of the Savior! We must try to remember that these characters had no idea how things would unfold. The magnitude of Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s pregnancy can be easily lost in our awareness that everything turns out fine in the end.
Try to place yourself in Joseph’s shoes. If your fiancée had just informed you that she was pregnant by way of the Holy Spirit, your emotions would most likely be filled with betrayal, fury and heartbreak.
St. Joseph was a much calmer and wiser man, as you can imagine. He did not respond in this way. He struggled with how he would handle this situation. In the midst of his struggle, God sent an angel to explain to him that what Mary said was true. The angel explained there was nothing to fear and that he should take her as his wife. Joseph arose and did what the angel asked of him.
This was truly an unprecedented event in human history. Even though St. Joseph had great faith, there was no previous example of God working in this way before. His quick response showed his confidence that God was capable of doing the impossible. At the core of his being resided unshakeable faith that God was a God of miracles. Joseph was utterly confident in the fact that God was alive and active, both in the creation of the world and the daily lives of each and every soul he so masterfully created. St. Joseph believed that God dynamically intervenes in human history and was humble enough to surrender to God’s plan.
God could have made the decision easier for Mary and Joseph. When he sent Gabriel to Mary, Joseph was not present. Therefore, Mary’s fiat (her Yes!) was made independent of Joseph. She had no idea how he would respond when finding out about her miraculous pregnancy! Her fiat demonstrated her unwavering faith in God and her outright trust in Joseph. It was only after Mary told Joseph what had taken place that God sent an angel to Joseph. God relied on their personal decisions to trust in him and in one another before sharing the details of his plan with Joseph.
Through the experience from this unprecedented event, I have no doubt that Mary and Joseph learned to trust in God more than ever. For Mary, she would hold on to this immovable faith and trust all the way to the foot of the cross. They knew God was in control. No matter how it appeared to the rest of the world, they knew God had a plan.
Their example teaches us something about God as well as something about both Mary and Joseph. Their faith in God was unshakeable. Their trust in his plan was unfailing. Joseph would follow God’s will at all costs, no matter what it meant for his own life. When I think about this obedience, I can’t help but think about Christ himself. Like father, like son.
God seeks men of faith. God can move mountains in your life and the lives of others if he finds in you the faith of a mere mustard seed. Jesus reminds us, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). In difficult moments, when you do not understand and your faith is tested, remember that God’s ways are not your ways, and his thoughts are not your thoughts. His plans are infinitely higher. It is in these moments in particular that you must place your life and the lives of your loved ones in his hands. Allow St. Joseph to be your guide.
Heavenly Father – inspire in me a faith like St. Joseph’s, so that I may always trust in your ways.
St. Joseph – unveil for me the love of the Holy Spirit present in my spouse. Amen.