Jesus was born of Mary, the betrothed of Joseph, a Son of David.
The waiting is almost over. The last days of preparation for this great annual feast of Christmas are before us. In preparation, the Church puts before us the Gospel of Matthew and the awkward, almost embarrassing reading of the story of Mary and Joseph – she who is found to be pregnant before her marriage to Joseph; and he being honourable wanting to spare her publicity and call it off. But this is how Jesus Christ came to be born. And the genealogy that proceeds this story – the genealogy that traces the ancestry of Joseph back to David – mentions twenty-one men and four women. Each time the women are mentioned, Ruth, Rahab, Tamar and Bathsheba we notice that none of them are Jewish and that there is some unusual or irregular circumstance around the birth of their children.
At the same time, each of those children proves to be a pivotal player in exposing the face of God to their community. So what are we to make of this in our lives and in our community?
God does not always choose what is respectable and regular to make Godself known. The weak and the vulnerable, those who do not fit the mould are equally or preferentially chosen to be bearers of the message of God. This can be a difficult thing to come to terms with. It is particularly so in our culture when we believe we have to work hard for what we have and there are no freebies. Joseph had to sleep on it to try to understand it. We might have to spend some time coming to terms with it too and look more closely at the areas of our lives, our family and our world that we consider godless. It just may be that these are the places and people where the revelation of God might be found.
By Fr Brendan Reed