A Righteous Man

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25)

Scripture Study

1:18 betrothed Refers to a permanent relationship nearly equivalent to marriage. lived together Refers to cohabitation or physical union. she was found with child Suggests that Mary was in her second trimester—that is, her pregnancy was beginning to show.

1:19 unwilling to expose her The law demanded that an adulteress receive the death penalty (Deut 22:21). However, the Jewish community of this time often did not carry out the death penalty; instead, they punished adulteresses through public disgrace.

1:20 in a dream Angelic visitation and dreams are a common means of supernatural revelation in the sacred literature of this time.

1:21 you are to name him A father was responsible for naming his son at the time of his circumcision (eight days after birth). The angel’s words implicitly command that Joseph accept his role as father of the child. In antiquity, names were often thought to be emblematic of the character or calling of the individual. Jesus From the Hebrew name yeshua’, which means “Yahweh saves.” he will save his people from their sins Announces more than a royal or political Messiah. Jesus saves, even from sin (compare Isa 53:12).

1:22 to fulfill Matthew often interprets events in Jesus’ life in terms of prophecies from the OT; this is the first instance of this type of interpretation.

1:23 virgin The Greek word used here, parthenos, reflects the Septuagint (ancient Greek translation of the OT) version of Isa 7:14, which Matthew drew from when quoting the Hebrew Bible (or OT). Matthew appropriates this prophecy and applies it to the virgin birth of Jesus. they shall name him Emmanuel Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Isa 7:14, which says that the child’s name will be Immanuel (meaning “God with us”; compare Matt 28:20). While in the original context of Isaiah, this is a prophecy about a child born during the reign of King Ahaz of Judah (ca. 735–715 BC; Isa 7:16; compare Isa 8:8, 10), Matthew sees this prophecy as finding its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.

1:25 he had no relations with her Matthew does not record any command for Joseph to refrain from marital relations with Mary, although abstinence was the rule of the time during the betrothal period. Matthew is careful to indicate that no human father had any role in Jesus’ conception. she bore a son The date of Jesus’ birth is approximately 5 BC, based on aligning it with the reign of Herod the Great.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel centers on the intriguing figure of Joseph. Joseph is one of the most beloved of the saints, featured in countless works of art and prominent in the devotional lives of many.

We know almost nothing about him, yet some very powerful spiritual themes emerge in the accounts of Joseph. He had become betrothed to Mary and this union had been blessed by God. And then he finds that his betrothed is pregnant.

This must have been an emotional maelstrom for him. And, at a deeper level, it is a spiritual crisis. What does God want him to do? Then the angel appears to him in a dream and tells him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” He realizes at that moment that these puzzling events are part of a much greater plan of God’s. What appears to be a disaster from his perspective is meaningful from God’s perspective.

Joseph was willing to cooperate with the divine plan, though he in no way knew its contours or deepest purpose. Like Mary at the Annunciation, he trusted and let himself be led.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.