Joseph was fully aware of Mary’s consecration to God, including her offering of her virginity, and he found a way to love her on her terms just as any “just” man would do. Many of us struggle with this part of the story for three reasons:
First, it’s difficult for us to imagine that a woman would desire total consecration to God, while at the same time desiring to be married. When we do this, we lower Mary to our standards.
Second, it’s difficult to believe Mary and Joseph would freely choose to embrace abstinence. Here we lower our own standards because we cannot conceive of an intimate, full marriage without sexual relations.
And Third, it is difficult for us to believe Joseph actually believed Mary’s story. This is why understanding Matthew 1:18-20 as a “just” Jewish Man like Joseph, rather than as our modern precepts allow, becomes essential.
St. Thomas Aquinas states: “To love is to will the good of another.” Joseph wants only what is best for Mary. He does not “take” from her. He does not have our secular inclinations to think “I deserve this” or “as a husband, I deserve that.” Joseph embraces Mary with virtue not just desire. To love purely requires that we do not grasp to take from someone but allow the other person time to reveal themselves to us, as they choose to do. This requires the virtue of patience.
Jewish tradition allowed for a man and woman to become legally married and then following a period of time, the woman would join her husband in his home. So why would a “just” man like Joseph, who loved Mary with virtue, resolve to divorce her quietly? Was it truly because he didn’t believe her? Or was it perhaps because he did?
Joseph would’ve known well Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah’s prophecy about the VIRGINAL CONCEPTION of the Messiah. Remember, as a “just” man he would have lived the word of God. We might want to believe he was ashamed of Mary because of the shame we see exhibited today. But a “just” man like Joseph saw something completely different. He saw her “awe” for God. Joseph was in AWE of what God had done in Mary. He was in AWE of her trust in God.
❤️💙💛 I invite you to take a moment and “feel” what you feel in Joseph’s heart, as well as yours. DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT KIND OF HOLINESS IS POSSIBLE? when we consider Joseph as “just” and capable of loving God and Mary with such virtues of true patience and true humility, it begs the question for ourselves: Could that be possible for me? Could I love someone with such awe? Do you believe more is possible from our human life than we settle for today? Consider the couple who endures paralysis and is unable to partake in sexual relations. There are many circumstances today, and many saints of old, who where married couples engaged in marital celibacy for the sake of total consecration to God. What about you? What kind of love do you really want from God and others?
Joseph didn’t offer to send Mary away in shame, he offered to divorce her because of his virtue of humility. St. Bernard says, “a virtue by which a man knowing himself AS HE TRULY IS, abases himself.” Joseph knew who he was. Because he knew WHOSE he was. And like King David in 2 Samuel 6:9, Joseph felt unworthy of having the Ark of the Lord in his own home. Joseph was completely familiar with the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant and would have immediately recognized Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. Who is worthy of receiving the ark of the Lord into his home? No one. Who is holy enough to represent fatherhood to Jesus on behalf of God the Father? No one. Who is worthy of receiving the New Eve into his own marriage? No one. Joseph knew who he truly was. He did not pretend to be someone he was not. It is Joseph’s humility and reverence that leads to his decision, hence the angel would have to tell him, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Who is worthy? You are Joseph. God found him worthy. And that was enough.
Humility is knowing WHO you are because you know WHOSE you are. When our identity is lived from a place of sonship with the Father, all we need is for him to “say the word” and he will enter under our own roof and our souls shall be healed.
🙏🏼 PRAY: Father, I ask for the grace today to know personally your love for me. Help me understand the reality of who I am by further experiencing whose I am. I beg you to raise my standards. Transform my mind and the way I think so that I can believe in what you desire for me. Amen.
📖 READ Romans 12. What is God saying to you? How does it apply to your own life? What do you want to say to your Father?
❤️💙💛LADIES: In light of such a possibility of a having a “just” man for a husband, how might your perception of being a virtuous wife change how you see marriage. Is it easier to believe you are enough just because you are a daughter of God? How might you reflect such worthiness in your relationships with others? How do you think the virtue of humility might help you grow in God’s grace and obtain His best for you?What does it feel like to think of a man like Joseph recognizing the true worthiness of Mary and being humble enough to say he is unworthy? If you are married, how does it make you feel to think that your husband’s worthiness as your spouse is directly due to God having chosen him worthy of you rather than on his performance of his duties? Spend some time praying and reflecting on that with your Father.
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