Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Mt 1:20-21)
Not only is it interesting that the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, but the other message delivered by the angel is that the people already belong to the Lord!…for he comes to save hispeople. We always belong to the Lord, whether in cooperation with His grace, or in destructive separation, or apparent apathy…we are the Lord’s! As St. Paul says: whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)
So, as this great period of salvation history culminates in the approaching birth of the promised savior, Joseph is encouraged by the ancient message of God: Do not be afraid! Take Mary into your home and receive your Savior!
Somehow or another, many find it easy to separate our experience from that of Mary, when the angel declared to her that she was to give birth to Jesus. However, I believe that we can perhaps relate our human experience more closely to that of Joseph…and in this case, it does not matter, because their experience is the same! They received the message of God and believed.
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans this weekend gives us the same message. Paul came among the Gentiles as an Apostle sent by God to proclaim Jesus Christ. The message is still urgent today: belong to Jesus Christ! (Romans 1:6)
How imperative (and challenging) it is for us today to find the “language” that speaks to the modern world, the current culture, to belong to Jesus Christ. More and more I am coming to believe that the language is simply (and powerfully) the Gospel. This is the urgency of the New Evangelization, to speak of Christ to the world. To speak the language of today, of today’s youth, so that Christ may speak to them, and draw all people to Himself.
May we all live these final days of Advent, and always, in a manner that speaks to the world: “We belong to Jesus Christ!”