Every new father has things to learn, things that can’t be read out of a book or even told to you. This has been true for me as well. I have been learning much about being a dad in the past few weeks. As we approach Christmas, I can’t help but think of the Holy Family, especially Joseph.
The Gospel of Matthew focuses on a man named Joseph who was pledged to be married to Mary. The Gospel of Luke focuses more on mother Mary. What we learn from reading the first chapter of Matthew is that Joseph wanted to quietly divorce Mary. He wanted to be faithful to the law, but not expose her the public disgrace that would have surely come her way. She was unmarried and pregnant. Joseph wanted to do what was right.
Most Bible translations tell us that Joseph was “faithful to the law”. Others read that he was a “just man” or even a “good man”. In the NIV translation, the heading for this reading in Matthew is titled “Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son”. He may have had help in doing this from the angel who visited him, but he accepted Jesus as his son nonetheless.
After the angel visited Joseph in the dream, he woke up, accepted Mary as his wife and gave his son the name Jesus. He accepted Jesus as his own.
There is a strong connection between a mother and baby. Baby lives within mom for 9 months. It’s a very close connection. The relationship between baby and father is different. Fathers can only feel their child kick or move inside the mother, so that moment when you finally get to hold your baby is special.
When I held Zechariah for the first time, it was a special moment. A moment filled with joy and love. I wonder what Joseph felt that first time he held Jesus. I imagine that Joseph felt that was a special moment for him too. Under the stars of Bethlehem, I’m certain he had the same joy and love in his heart that I had.
We know very little about Joseph outside of the first few chapters of Matthew. The Holy Family escapes to Egypt and returns to Israel after Joseph has another dream featuring an angel.
Joseph faced a challenging situation, but wanted to be faithful to the law and Mary. Joseph wanted to do what was right and still be faithful. This man is an inspiration to me as a new father.
There is a prayer in The Book of Common Prayer titled “For the Care of Children”.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the
joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient
wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love
whatever is just and true and good, following the example of
our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I imagine that Joseph, along with Mary, raised Jesus with calm strength and patient wisdom and taught Jesus to love whatever is just and true and good. Joseph was a good man and good father. I hope to be like him.
As I close, let me share one final prayer from The Book of Common Prayer that remembers the man, husband and father Joseph.
O God, who from the family of your servant David raised
up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the
spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his
uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.