And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” -Matthew 1:19-21
Joseph played an important role in the story as well. He was a rather ordinary man who had extraordinary faith. In Orthodox Tradition, we hold chat Joseph was an elderly man, who had been widowed. He had children from a previous marriage, who are later referred to as Jesus’s brothers and sisters who in reality were half-brothers and half-sisters (see Matt. 13: 55-56). Joseph worked as a carpenter-a rather ordinary life.
Joseph was a just man and the Gospel cells us chat he did not want to put Mary to shame, so he resolved to divorce her quietly.
But as he considered this, behold and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to make Mary your wife, for chat which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1: 20-22)
We are told that “when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:24-25).
Joseph had extraordinary faith. Imagine the conversation when Mary told him that she was pregnant. Here she had been raised in the temple. They were engaged, but not married. And now his betrothed was pregnant and the baby was not his. What faith he must have had in Mary, to believe chat she was pregnant in a way no human being could become pregnant, by the Holy Spirit. And what faith he must have had in God to assume the role of caretaker for an unmarried woman who risked being scorned by the society of the day. He had the same risk as well. He had a job, he had friends, he had a reputation, and all those things he was willing to put on the line because of his faith.
There are two lessons from the life of Joseph. First, one can be a rather ordinary person and still make an extraordinary spiritual contribution. Joseph was not a priest, was not really learned (he had a trade, not a career), was not a member of the temple elite. He wasn’t looking to play a big role when God tapped him on the shoulder. Yet, he, like Mary, embraced his role. You don’t have to have a lot of money, or fame or a great career in order to answer God’s call for your life. And secondly, Joseph was willing to risk his comfort, his job, his friends and so much more in order to care for Mary and her (not his) unborn child. Are we willing to do the same? Joseph’s “Yes” to God was for a different thing than Mary. But it was really no less important. Because the story could not be complete without both of them.
An extraordinary person with little faith is rather ordinary in the eyes of God. An ordinary person with extraordinary faith, is extraordinary in the eyes of God. What kind of faith do you have? What kind of faith do you want to have? If you were standing in the presence of God right now, how would HE describe your faith?
Tell us, O Joseph, how is it that you bring to Bethlehem great with Child the Maiden whom from the sanctuary you received? I, says he, have searched the Prophets and received a revelation from an Angel; and convinced am I that Mary shall give birth to God in ways surpassing all interpretation. And to worship Him shall Magi from the east come with precious gifts to pay homage unto Him. O Lord who for our sake have taken flesh, glory to You. (From the Royal Hours of the Nativity. Trans. Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Be extraordinary in your faith today!
~Father Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, LET ALL CREATION REJOICE: Reflections for Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany