Father Edward McIlmail, LC
This is how the birth of
Jesus Christ came about. 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 be with child 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. He
had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I
come before you humbly. As one who has frequently
fallen into sin, I am aware of my weakness. Your
great love, though, assures me that your grace can
keep me on the path to holiness.
Lord, let me better imitate St. Joseph in the
way I deal with the people around me.
1. No Gloating:
Joseph was taken aback to learn that Mary was
expecting a baby. Here was a woman he always knew
to be beyond reproach. Legally he could have denounced
her publicly. Yet he didn’t. He was ready to
let the whole matter drop quietly, as if to give
Mary the benefit of the doubt. What a great
virtue this is: to think the best of others! It
reflects a heart of peace and calm. How many
friendships have ended ― indeed, how many wars have
started ― because people assumed the worst of someone else.
Have I ever judged the motives of someone else,
only to learn later that things were not as they
first appeared? To whom should I be giving the
benefit of the doubt?
2. Angelic Explanation: Notice that the angel
appears to Joseph only after he decides to do
the charitable thing and send Mary away quietly. So
it often goes in the spiritual life: God reveals more
of his plan to us only if we respond
to a crisis with charity. It is as if Jesus
says, “Treat others well and you will begin to
understand me better.” In a crisis, is charity my
3. Jesus’ Portal: This Gospel passage could be called
a second Annunciation. At the first Annunciation, Mary said
"yes" to the angel. Now, Joseph’s "yes" was needed
in order to ensure that Jesus would have the
appearance of an earthly father (and a reputable lineage).
Jesus often wants to come back into the world, so
to speak, to touch lives: through a work of
charity, a word of kindness ― or even a new
baby. He counts on our help though. What help
could Jesus be asking of me so as to carry
out his plans? Could I be thwarting his plans
because of laziness, stubbornness, or selfishness? Is he asking
me to cooperate with someone? With a loved one? A
classmate? A co-worker?
Conversation with Christ: You wonderfully
invite me to help you in your mission to
save souls, Lord. You respect my freedom, and you
want me to respond out of love. Let me appreciate
that truth fully, and let me be generous with
Resolution: I will agree to one request (big
or small) today to help someone.