|This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. |
Mary and Joseph were called by God to be the earthly parents of Jesus. We do not believe they were chosen because they were worthy. They didn't "earn the right" to become the parents of the Son of God. They were sinners, just like us. And, after all, just what would one have to do to earn such an incredible privilege??
But God prepares the ones He calls and He uses the gifts and fruit of those He calls...
Mary and Joseph lived in a patriarchal culture. It centred around men and their rights and dignity. A classic example of this is the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. The woman is dragged to Jesus - shamed and exposed - but where is the man? No-one except Jesus even seems to blink at this blatant injustice.
So when Mary falls pregnant and Joseph isn't the father, we expect him to conform to public norms and put her through a nasty, messy, public divorce. (Betrothal (being pledged) was considered as binding as marriage.) We expect him to make a big show of his bruised dignity and shame she has brought on him.
But Joseph behaves unexpectedly. He doesn't "power-up" - He "powers-down". He is gentle, considerate, gracious and even protective of her.
Think through the hot anger, bruised pride and the deep sense of betrayal and disappointment he would have had to work through. But he does it.
Joseph is called a righteous man - his righteousness came not from being right, but doing right.
Today's Lent challenge is to emulate this kind of gentleness - even when we may be right, even when we have the moral high ground or even when we may have earned the right to payback.