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 first
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?
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 you.
I will agree to one request (big
or small) today to help someone.