23 Dec Monday
This Sunday’s readings tell the stories of any number of dysfunctional families, just saying that the texts are brutally realistic and honest about real life. They often painfully just like us! But this Sunday is not one of them. Joseph is the main character ion the Gospel, with Mary and Jesus referred to as “the child with his mother” three times in the text.
The story picks up right where the gospel for Advent IV A left off. The massacre of the holy innocents injected in between. Indeed Mary is only named once in Matthew’s infancy narratives at 1, 18. First to notice is that lie Mary, Joseph is portrayed as someone who also does the will of God; he is a faithful and just man. Second is the way in which Matthew inserts the story of Jesus into a larger picture of the sweep of world events and history; you can notice this in the opening genealogy of Matthew. It seem that the point is that God acts in human history and continues to do so to draw humanity and the fallen world back to God’s own self. While the world may be in disorder, God acts in an orderly and carefull way with us.
Notice that Joseph was a Judean, and yet he could not return to his first home for fear of the Herodian clan, so he moves far north into the hill country of Narareth where there were also job opportunities nearby with the Roman building or a new city a couple of miles from Nazareth, at Sephoris. A prudent carpenter was able to provide for his family yet living within a Jewish community to avoid hellenization. This is the environment in which Jesus was raised.