|"Mary - I, uh, had this, uh... dream and I was, uh..." "Yes?"|
"Oh forget it. Is May 25th still good? You know how caters are."
That's how I remember Joseph. A good guy being nice to Mary, but we all knew she was a good girl so we expected him to be good to her - because he's a good guy, right?
Let me tell you something, good men get really angry at lies and betrayal.
Good men hate spending money on a ring that cannot be returned. Good men hate being cuckolded.
Good men hate being treated like chumps. That simple.
But Joseph was a righteous man - that is not just a moral man, but a man who lived rightly before God. He knew he sinned before God, so he want to temple with sacrifices, year after year.
He heard in the synagogue of the Fall of Man and how even the patriarchs and great saints of olden days sinned against God, yet God had mercy on them. He was of the line of David, and that meant he knew his forefather, King David was merciful to the apostate Saul when he'd gone mad with jealousy and tried to kill David for no good reason.
He knew mercy belonged in his heart to those who'd hurt him. By every appearance, Mary, his betrothed had cheated on him. He was not a fool. He was sick. He raged, He cried. He could not believe it. He wanted justice but if he demanded that, it would only harm the very girl he'd asked to be his bride.
He took the most expensive, most emotionally brave option to let Mary go quietly.
I am divorced after a very brief marriage. I have canned food that lasted longer. It is an ugly thing to see all your hopes disintegrate before your very eyes.
If you think believing in God is for sissies, you have it backwards. It takes guts.
Joseph had guts. He was good. He was merciful. He was sick and sad and was going to do the best thing he could do for Mary. He loved her dearly.
Then we read this from Matthew 1:20, 21:
I want you to note three things 1) the angel appeared to him in a dream, like many OT patriarchs had had, and even pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Pharoah had experienced, 2) the angel called him by his ancestral honorific - clearly identifying him as man like David, his "father" and 3) he was being comforted and given a fabulous honor and duty - to raise the messiah.
When people call me "Mr. Carmon" they are looking at me as a man to be respected. When people call me "Justice" they are looking at me as a guy to appreciated.
When this angel says "Joseph, son of David" in his dream, he's being very appreciative and even respectful, Imagine him smiling as he identifies him. I am sure I am making a bit much of this - I get letters all the time with both names on them and it doesn't really move my heart.
But this is a special event - and the angel is not just giving him information; he's comforting him too.
"Don't be aftraid..." Don't worry, I would have said. I'm not. I'm angry as hell.
But anger is just fear with testosterone. You are afraid of being taken advantage of or of being humiliated. "Perfect love casts out fear," says John the Apostle. He's right.
So the angel is almost saying "Hey, Joe, don't you worry. Your fiance' didn't cheat on you. This is all coming from God. You've been chosen to foster a very special boy. Very special!"
Wow. One other thought occured to me.
Zecharaiah had the angel Gabriel appear before him in the holy of holies and did not believe him.
Mary had the angel Gabriel appear before her and she asked how it was going to happen but then submitted wonderfully.
Joseph hears from an angel - maybe it was Gabriel - in a dream and doesn't argue, disbelieve or ask any questions.
He just gets up and does what he was supposed to do: marry his pregnant fiance'.
That man is a mensch. That man was righteous. That man was awesome.
May we men of the cross be the same today.