… Matthew 1: 18-20a
Matthew as a Tax Collector had to be by both his profession and his nature a list maker/organiser. As he walked and listened to Jesus, he complied the details that make up his gospel. A Hebrew writing to other Hebrews, Matthew’s narrative is heavy on Old Testament quotes; connections of the scriptures to Jesus’ life; and, importantly, Mathew starts with Jesus’ genealogy which includes the Hose if David to his earthly father, Joseph. His go as k is more all his Jewish brothers and sisters will be convinced of Jesus as their Messiah.
Joseph also is a list maker, a compiler, an organiser in his profession (carpenter) and his nature. A process person, Joseph always sees both, all sides, of an issue or a project. Note the number of ‘buts’, because and yet in this short two verse description of how he decides to take Mary as his wife. Matthew’s words describe Joseph’s process of taking, loving God and Mary. Joseph is creating vast spiritual, emotional and physical space for himself and Mary and Jesus. And he does this through the lists of possible choices.
Joseph creates lists to create space for himself to feel and think. He is building a family, lives, homes in these emotional and intellectual spaces. And once he has designed a space for Mary, then, unexpectedly, an angel appears and the planned quiet space for Mary becomes a joy filled space for Mary and Joseph and their, our, Jesus. Joseph is flexible enough to walk into this new heavenly space; and he does it knowing this walk will be life long.
Mary had to have known of this first discarded plan of Joseph. He was going to leave her and now he wants her? Why accept this man and this plan? Wouldn’t God who visited her ultimately protect her and her baby? How should she answer Joseph?
Her response can be felt in her immediate actions with Joseph: she marries him.
Her love is seen here. She does judge or question Joseph’s first plan; she does not say ‘do it’ -put me away quietly. She does not passively accept Joseph. Mary walks with him to Bethlehem, though very pregnant with child; she does not say ‘why didn’t you make a reservation?’; she does not throw her wedding ring at Joseph during her birthing labour. She chooses him.
Simply, she walks with him, lies with him. She listens to his new plan and his former plan. Both share experiences with Angels and God. Both will share in the life of their Jesus. Both will share each other, fully.
She loves him all the more for loving her with both his quiet process plan, and his immediate angel induced marriage plan. Joseph is a true loving son of David, a listening, a receiving prophet, a generous king like priest.
And as this descendant of David, Joseph builds the temple David was not permitted to build: his life and hands help build the temple Jesus. How?
Joseph can build space and act with present force. He is Her love, God’s love, and Joseph can build and because of love.
And He can build, as we can, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 para phrase)