Avera Marshall Spiritual Care Department
"And she (Mary) will have a son and you (Joseph) are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
Do you believe that God will fulfill every promise he has made? The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke words of hope in a hopeless situation for Israel. Like the prophets, we are called "in hope to believe against hope" (Romans 4:18) that God can and will fulfill all his promises recorded in sacred Scriptures.
The Virgin Mary had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God's Word and to the faith of her family and Joseph, the man she chose to marry. She was asked to assume a burden of tremendous responsibility. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature. That required faith and trust in God and in His divine promises.
Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God's promises.
Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary, when he discovered that she was pregnant. To all appearances, she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger.
God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence and trust in almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah.
Like the Virgin Mary, Joseph is a model of faith in God's Word for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption for all human beings.
Are you ready to believe in the Scriptural promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? God has not left us alone but has brought us His only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - Emmanuel
Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful expectant hearts and may God's Spirit renew our faith and hope in the redemptive work and mission of the Babe of Bethlehem, Christ Jesus!
May the message of this 16th century Christmas carol, titled: "Song of the Crib," echo in our hearts and minds: (Mary) "Joseph, Dearest Joseph mine, Help me cradle the Child divine. God reward thee and all that's thine, In paradise, so prays the mother Mary." (Joseph's reply) "Gladly dear one, Lady mine Help I cradle this Child of thine." "God's own light on us both shall shine, In paradise," as prays the mother Mary."
And we respond: "He came among us at Christmastide, at Christmastide, in Bethlehem; Men shall bring Him from far and wide Love's diadem: Jesus, Jesus, Lo, He comes, and loves, and saves, and frees us." Amen