As in the gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Joseph is once again the main character in today’s gospel reading. Soon after his birth the life of Jesus is put at risk. Like Joseph in the Book of Genesis, who is the saviour of his people in Egypt, this Joseph too is the saviour of his family from the power of Herod, king of the Jews.
Joseph is portrayed as always ready to listen to the angel of the Lord. He listens as God speaks in his heart. Having been willing to take the pregnant Mary into his home, he now takes her and the child she has borne on a difficult journey to a foreign land. The return to the land of Israel is equally traumatic, since Joseph settles as a newcomer in the region of Galilee. Joseph demonstrates steadfastness in his commitment to protecting his family, but also willingness to respond when what is asked of him is new and unexpected.
The gospel makes clear from its opening pages that Jesus’ entry into this world brings with it a vulnerability which will be seen most clearly at the cross. The life of the child Jesus is put at risk due to the lust for power of the leaders of his day. Herod the king in fact never hesitated to use violent means to protect his kingship from threats both real and imagined.
How does this gospel reading help us understand the deeper meaning of Christmas?
Does the courage of Joseph show us how to react to violence in our own time?
We pray for all fathers and mothers that they may always do what is best for their children.
We pray for all children who are neglected and ill-treated.