Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. 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 fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el”
(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.
Joseph and Mary are now in the first stage of their marriage, which is that they are legally married to each other, but not yet living together. Joseph learns she is pregnant, but knew this could not be from Him. Because he is a just man, he had to consider all of his options since an adulterous woman could be put to death! He loved Mary and did not want this to happen to her. He figures he’ll just divorce her and send her away quietly. Even though he was hurt, he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her. He was following the Jewish Law, but he did not know yet that was not God’s plan. So while thinking and praying about it, he falls asleep. Gabriel comes to him in a dream, explains everything and what was his response? He followed the Lord’s command without question and took Mary in.
We learn two things about true love from the example of Joseph. First, he did not want to cause her scandal when he found out she was pregnant with someone elses child. When we are hurt by another, deeply hurt like only a husband and wife can feel when one is betrayed by the other, we often lash out at the other and want to hurt them in return. Yet, Joseph did not want to do this to Mary. His initial reaction was just to divorce her quietly and let her go. When we are hurt by someone, instead of lashing out at them, we need to instead turn to God and allow Him to guide us down the path He wants us to take.
Joseph proves his love again when he found out from Gabriel how she became pregnant, by the Holy Spirit and not another man, and that she was carrying Emmanuel! He did not question the dream and immediately took her into his home. He also treated her as if her child was his own. Joseph could have chosen to still divorce Mary and not take on the responsibility to care for the Son of God, but with grace and dignity, he was the perfect adoptive father and cared for Jesus as if He was his own flesh and blood. Where have you taken another in, either physically or spiritually, and cared for them like a parent to a child? Just like in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks of those who are blessed for feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, visited the imprisoned. We are called to act with love and compassion for all of the children of God, and take care of them as adoptive fathers and mothers.
Jesus, please show me someone whom I can spiritually adopt this week before Christmas. Give me a generous heart to share my time, talent and treasure with those who are in need. Help me to show love and compassion to a stranger, and provide for them with nothing in return for myself but the warmth and joy of your love. I ask this through your holy and loving Name. Amen