“Don’t be afraid to take Mary with you” (Mt 1: 18–25)
These are the words that the angel says to Joseph. From Mary, in fact, he will receive Jesus, the Son begotten of the Spirit, the God-with-us.
This account clearly answers the two questions that open the previous passage, the genealogy of Jesus: who is the Father of Jesus, and how does Joseph enter into his kinship?
Christ is the Son of God Himself, begotten by the Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary; Joseph, the prototype of the believer, becomes his consanguinity by marrying Mary. In him, we see man’s doubts and resistance of the person to open up to something much bigger than what one is, even if it is what one is made for.
Faith in the Word establishes the kinship between us and God. Through it, like Joseph, we welcome the One who has the power to make us children (Jn 1: 12). Everything is left to our responsibility, our capacity to respond to the Word of God: this is the ‘angel’ who offers us the possibility to welcome him, to listen to him and to answer him.
The genealogy of Jesus tells us how God enters into our history; in this passage, instead, how we enter into his. He takes our flesh as it is, we receive Him as He offers Himself to us, in Mary. Joseph is the descendant of David, to whom God promised the Messiah. But He who promises always commits Himself, and what He promises at the end is Himself, committed in every one of His promises.
The son of David will be, not only the promised Messiah but, the same Lord who makes the promise. The Son is not born of us; He comes from the Spirit, because God is Spirit. Joseph thinks he must step back out of discretion and unworthiness (vv. 18, 19).
But he is encouraged by the angel to take the mother and the Son. He must give the name to the One who is not his. He is someone else, he is the Other himself, who awaits his “yes” to be his son, the God-with-him, the One who saves him and every generation from the loneliness of non-being (vv. 21–23).
Joseph is from now on presented as the one who listens and executes the Word (vv. 24, 25). Jesus is the Son of God, begotten in eternity by the Father in the Spirit, and born in time from the flesh of Mary, by the work of the same Spirit. The Church, like Joseph ‘the dreamer’, realizes God’s dream: in silence adoring, through faith welcomes the gift of the Son.
Praying the text
- imagine Joseph’s perplexity; what he thinks and why I imagine his thoughts and feelings.
- I listen to the words of the angel, how he reacts to his mission of giving name to Emmanuel, God-with-us.
- I ask what I need for my life: not to be afraid to take God’s gift in Mary.