Gospel of Matthew 1:18-24
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.Matthew 1:18-24
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 conceive 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.
Fourth Week of Advent Reflection
This week’s Gospel reading is always such a testament to the goodness of Joseph. Even in the pain that he experienced before being visited by the angel, he was unwilling to expose Mary to shame and suffering. Often we want revenge and justice when we feel betrayed or hurt, but Joseph did not.
Take Cain for example. When he felt rejected by God, Cain’s first reaction was to kill his brother. When we are hurt, our first instinct is to hurt back in any way that we can. In my work with clients, I often hear people say that they realized later that they thought they were pursuing justice, when they were really pursuing revenge.
It could be said that Joseph was pursuing justice by divorcing Mary quietly, whereas to expose her to public shame would have been revenge. It is important to reflect on our pain and response when we have been hurt by others. In my work with couples, people often describe going back and forth bringing up painful memories and mistakes in an effort to hurt each other. This often gets out of control and can happen not only in marriages but in any relationship. We need to pay attention to our response to pain and rejection so that we can take it to prayer and find potential solutions to resolve these issues in our relationships instead of exacerbating them by causing more pain.
If we pursue justice and healing, we can often improve our relationships. However, we can also be tempted to pursue revenge, which only results in more pain. If you find yourself seeking revenge frequently, consider reflecting on Joseph’s actions in today’s Gospel and ask him to intercede for you.