19 December 2010
The Annunciation to Joseph
Our Gospel story is centered on the birth of Jesus, but a good part of the passage is spent on how Joseph dealt with the news of the Incarnation. Here is the story of the Annunciation to Joseph. It starts with a man filled with anxiety.
Joseph felt like he was the luckiest man in the world: marrying a beautiful girl, the most virtuous girl in town, the love of his life. Until one day, shortly after their betrothal, her bride told him the news: she was with child, the next words she spoke didn't matter anymore. She was with child and he was not the father. His well-laid plans changed. Things took a different turn. He was at a loss on how to deal with the situation.
The story of Joseph speaks to us and our many anxieties. Life brings us many anxieties: how to make ends meet, how to get back to that project after the Christmas break is over, how to mend a broken relationship, how to cope with illness or death in the family, and for some, just basically how to survive.
Even the Christmas season brings its own list of things to be anxious about: what gifts to buy, what goes to whom, how to decorate, what food to prepare, how to keep the weight down, how to deal with being with the "SMP" (samahan ng mga malalamig ang Pasko).
In the Gospel story, God intervened and sent an angel to relieve him of his anxieties. "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid" the angel told him. Joseph listened and believed, he took Mary home with him and was at peace. He might not yet fully understand everything but he knew God was guiding him.
There is another man filled anxiety in the today's readings. King Ahaz, in the First Reading, was in dread over an impending invasion of his kingdom of Judah by an alliance between King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Aram. This was the time of the divided kingdom. Ahaz was one of the so-called bad kings of Israel. He was not good at wielding power responsibly. He worshipped other gods. To top it all, he once sacrificed his own son to the god Molloch. It was not clear whether it actually involved the killing of the child or just a symbolic offering. Nonetheless it was a clear violation of the covenant between God and His people.