Day Twelve - Thursday 8th December 2011
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Travelling as husband and wife; today we know that Joseph took Mary to be as his wife. We do not know when they were married, but the wording of Matthew's gospel seems clear that they were not yet married, but were "as" man and wife. This seems like as nothing in our modern world, there are so many people who live in committed loving relationships for decades without the need for marriage, and it is accepted as normal for couples to live together prior to marriage.
But going back 2000 years into a religious society and we would experience a very different reaction. The community would know that Mary and Joseph were unmarried, not least because marriage was a cause for major celebration and could not have been missed accidentally. The community would also have seen with their own eyes that Mary was expecting a child; you try hiding a swollen belly beyond 6 months and you'll know that hiding it is nigh on impossible.
So Joseph takes Mary as his wife despite the fact that their community would in all likelihood treat her appaulingly, and possibly him as well. That is bravery indeed and a showing of their commitment to their task for God. How much we owe them perhaps starts to become clear.
Prayer of the day
Father you tasked Mary and Joseph with the greatest of all undertakings knowing that it would be a hard process for them yet knowing no other way. We thank them for their part and ask to be reminded of this when we walk the rough paths in our own lives. Amen.