MONDAY HOMILY: 3RD WEEK IN ADVENT – YEAR B
THEME: A Righteous Man
BY: Deacon Bill Frere
Gospel – Matthew 1:18-25
Church of St. Joseph, Nazareth
One week ago (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe), we listened to the story of the Annunciation, Gabriel appearing to Mary and her resounding YES to God! Today it’s Joseph’s turn. But the circumstances and details are radically different.
Joseph’s ‘announcement’ happens at night in a dream. Mary questioned the angel about how this could happen to her, a virgin. Joseph? No questions, in fact, not one single word, not here, not anywhere in the Gospels. Mary’s response? I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word. And Joseph? His response is one of action. When he wakes, he immediately takes Mary into his house. He is a man of few, if any, words. But his actions speak volumes.
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Matthew calls him a righteous man, a man devoted to and a faithful follower of the Law. He knows that the Law is very clear. If a woman is found with child before marriage, she should be exposed for her adultery and could be stoned to death. Joseph, even before his dream, has decided to divorce her quietly so as not to expose her to shame. He knows the Law; he follows the Law. But he is also a compassionate man and he realizes that laws should be tempered by love of God and love of others. His only concern is for Mary, not himself.
Joseph acts out of love and faith and even courage. There is one thing throughout this situation that he does lack – fear! In every story in the Gospels, Joseph hears God’s message and he acts! No hesitation! No doubt! He could have been worried about his standing in the community, about what his friends would say. Instead his only concern is for Mary and for her child. Perhaps that is the best description of a righteous person – faithful, compassionate, unselfish, trusting in God!
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