Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mt 1, 18-23
Whenever we celebrate someone’s birthday we are actually celebrating the person. We rejoice that God thought to create this wonderful human being. Only the one who looks with love can truly be happy over the existence of another, for only love looks beneath the surface to see the goodness of God’s creation. The Gospel today presents us with a man whose love was profoundly tested.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary who had been found to be with child and that child was not his own. Had she betrayed him? That was what everyone was saying. But when he looked into her eyes, he saw, not guilt, but that pure innocence which had enamored him from the beginning. Was God working a mystery in her? And was he worthy to be part of that mystery? Or was it a mystery of iniquity? And was it right for him to receive her as his own? Already in the dawn of the new covenant, his heart was moved to mercy and he did not want to hand her over to the death penalty. If she had betrayed him, he still did not want to betray her. Yet, if he accepted her, he was also taking on her mystery and her scandal. Agonizing over this heartrending dilemma, he reluctantly came to a decision which could only seem like a compromise, but he did not know what else to do; he would attempt to divorce her quietly. Then, having exhausted all his human resources, he fell asleep. We know what happened; an angel came to his rescue, assuring him that it was the will of God he should receive Mary as his wife and take responsibility for her Divine Child. And when he awoke he wasted no time, but did as the angel had directed him. Once his way was clear, his love gave him wings. He dedicated his life to Jesus and Mary despite the hardships and the ridicule that he knew would follow his decision. We give gifts on birthdays. Joseph gave the gift that makes all other gifts meaningful. He gave himself.