Monday after the Fourth Sunday in Advent
Scripture: St. Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
Joseph was merciful toward Mary when he thought she had been unfaithful toward him. He could have exposed the sin that he believed she committed and let her be subject to the harsh consequences. But he chose not to, and instead showed her love and kindness.
The profound grace and providence of God is reflected in so many subtle details that surround the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus. The miracle of Christ being conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Virgin Mary is an incredible thing, so it is understandable that Joseph needed an angel of the Lord to show him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him. To the contrary, she was with child because she was faithful to him, and to the Lord! She honored her commitment to Joseph, son of David, and she was favored in the eyes of the Lord on account of faith.
However, we have not been faithful toward God. All mankind, from Adam to David, and to Joseph and Mary, on to each one of us, has been unfaithful and sinned against the Lord. Because of that He had every right to put us away and leave us to the harshest of consequences for our own infidelity. But He showed us the greatest possible mercy. He did not seek to put us away secretly, but He redeemed us publicly! He gave His own precious Son to die for our sinful betrayals and saved us from the death that should have come upon us.
We pray: Lord God, endless thanks and praise be to You on account of Your mercy shown to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Make us always grateful for Your kind forgiveness, which allows us to live with you forever. Amen.