This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph is a good man, who wants to do the right thing. Yet he is a compassionate man and wants to do the right thing. He is torn.
God, our creator, is compassionate and loves us. Joseph’s compassion was beautiful to Him. He sends His messenger to inform Joseph that the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Joseph believes God and is faithful to His word. He takes Mary as his wife and honors and protects her.
It might be easy to miss some of the implications of this passage of Matthew’s Gospel. Nestled in there with the awesome miracle of the virgin birth and the dazzling appearance of the Angel is a simple, everyday miracle of life.
The child that was miraculously conceived in Mary is a normal human child.
Normal human children are conceived in the womb of a woman. There, they are protected and nourished until birth. Unfortunately, not all unborn children are healthy, and some do not make it to birth. And yet all of them are alive, they are human beings just like Jesus was and is.
God chose the womb of Mary to be the gateway through which the Messiah would be nourished, and then born into our world. This sanctified the womb, set it apart, and showed us clearly that it is a holy place. It always had been, but now we can see the womb as a cradle of life, blessed by God. And we see Mary as our mother too, as the one who bore Christ our Lord.
Every human life is sacred, and the fact that Jesus took on human flesh as an unborn baby settles that forever for us as Christians. As we journey closer to the Christmas season, let us pause here, with Joseph, and ponder the beauty and wonder of life in the womb, the life of a child of God being prepared to fulfill his calling after birth.
This month’s reflections are written by an anonymous Anglican.