Advent Devotional: December 22
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
– Matthew 1:18-25
We are all familiar with the story of the conception and birth of Jesus. But this passage is also the story about Joseph and his reaction to Mary’s pregnancy. Imagine a man engaged to a woman who becomes pregnant and he is not the father. What a shock that must have been!
Not much is known about Joseph. He was a direct descendant of David. He observed the Holy Days and Hebrew Feast with his family as shown in Luke 2:41-42. He was chosen by God to be the earthly father of Jesus. He was a righteous man and unwilling to expose Mary to public disgrace.
What did Joseph do when he discovered that Mary was pregnant? Did he pray for God’s guidance and help? No, as with many of us, he decided he could handle matters himself. He decided to “dismiss her quietly.”
How many times have we been faced with a crisis and decided we know what to do without God’s help? And how many times, despite our lack of faith, has God decided to help anyway? God sent an angel in a dream to tell Joseph he was making a mistake. Have you ever seen an angel? I think of angels as cherubs floating in the clouds, or figures wearing white robes with halos. But God does send angels to us. A loving spouse upon the death of a parent. A close friend in a time of need. A physician when a terminal illness is diagnosed.
Advent is an exciting time of expectation of the birth of the Christ Child. The angel of the lord appeared to Joseph to announce the coming of Jesus to save the world. During this season we should remember that even if we don’t ask God for help, we should look for the angels in our lives to remember that God doesn’t wait for us to ask for help.