The Holy Gospel: December 19, 2010 (Year A)

Read:  Matthew 1:18-25

Meditation:  “Thank God for Joseph”

The Christian story would have taken a different turn if Joseph had walked out on Mary.  Jesus’ life in Nazareth would have been different if Joseph had left Mary to raise Jesus by herself.  And Matthew leaves no doubt in the narrative—Joseph almost did this (v. 10).

But….he stayed—all because of two words:  he was a “righteous man.”  His conduct arose from a deep well of character.  From Joseph’s moral core, an amazing decision emerged to deal kindly with Mary.  This was not everything needed, but it kept Joseph in the picture long enough for the angel to come and reframe his understanding about what was going on.

Character always lays the foundation for God to work in our lives, because it disposes our hearts to be and to do “good.”  The actions of righteous persons are based in interior realities, not on what is going on around them.  Unrighteous people base their actions on the other person or on the “situation” from which they hope to gain some advantage.

Joseph’s inclination to do right by Mary gave God room to work, revealing things to him that he could never have figured out on his own.  When he realized what was happening, his decision to be “kind” to Mary turned into a radical decision to be “committed” to her—and to the child that would be born from her womb.

To read this story is to exclaim, “What a guy!”  Our world desperately needs people who live from a reservoir of righteousness.  Character is still what gives rise and shape to conduct.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to The Holy Gospel: December 19, 2010 (Year A)

  1. Larry Teasley says:

    I’m using this pericope for this Sunday morning. “From the Mundane to the Miraculous.” Have similar thoughts to your’s.

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