Matthew 1: 18-24
The Birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:
Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).
Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
As we prepare in Advent for the joy of the birth of Jesus, we sometimes overlook the terrible mess the news of his arrival must have brought. Mary had been visited by the Angel Gabriel, and had agreed to God’s plan for her to conceive and bear a child although she was a virgin. Her decision was incredibly brave. There wasn’t just a stigma about being an unmarried mother – she was likely to be severely punished for having a child that was not her husband’s.
We can see Joseph’s love and decency in the fact that, even before he knew the child was the Son of God, he was planning to protect Mary from this. Despite Mary’s great faith and Joseph’s love, it must have been a desperately uncertain time for her, and Joseph must have been in turmoil until the situation was explained in his dream. Jesus was born into the human world, where joy often comes only after worry and sadness.
Even after Joseph discovered the truth and Mary knew he would stay with her, in the late days of her pregnancy, they had to make a journey to a strange place, at the very time that Mary needed familiar people and comfort around her.
On this day, we are asked to pray for all expectant mothers. Some children are longed for desperately and loved from the moment they are conceived, but others are not so fortunate, and their mothers may be in a difficult situation, at their wits’ end worrying how they will care for them, or how they and those around them will cope with the pregnancy and birth. Some expectant mothers facing bringing a child into a war-torn world, or where there is no food or shelter for the existing family.
Expectant mothers need the love and support of the whole family and community. This is one of the few jobs you can do these days without qualifications, and the responsibility is frightening. Mary’s responsibility was even more awesome – she was carrying the saviour of humanity. But every expectant mother is carrying a child who is precious and full of potential.
Someone said that the best thing a father an do for his children is to love their mother: teaching children how to love and be loved, and bringing them up in a loving environment is something we must all contribute to. It’s up to every one of us to support each expectant mother, and do what we can to create a world where her child can thrive.
Salesian Communications Worker
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus, we ask you to take care of all mothers preparing for the birth of their babies, especially those who are worried and anxious. Keep them safe and in good health, and make their path easy.
Help all of us to do what we can to build communities that support mothers and families, and where children are welcomed with joy and supported as they grow.