Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 18: Year 1
“Now after they [the wise men] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him:” (Matthew 2: 13).
I have often pondered about this reading, why did God not just prevent Herod from killing the child Jesus, and also prevent the killing of the innocent babies two years and younger around Bethlehem? This would have shown all Israel that God’s work was being done.
But God does not work that way. So from the court of heaven and angel appeared to Joseph in a dream giving him instructions about what to do. We have no words from Joseph in any of the Gospel writings. He is the silent and obedient father of our Lord Jesus. He is the perfect role model for fatherhood.
Joseph does as he is told; he takes his family to Egypt. He stays there until he is again told to return to Israel. A point to notice is that he uses his own reasoning to go to Nazareth instead of returning to Bethlehem. Richard Hooker, a sixteenth century Anglican priest and theologian, says that we have the three legged stool of scripture, tradition and reason. I believe all three have equal play in our faith walk.
Joseph was a strong man of faith in the Hebrew tradition. He was brought up under the Hebrew scripture and tradition of the Law of Moses of his day. He had no way of knowing that he was a part of the new Christian tradition even as the New Testament scripture, which included him, was being recorded.
Joseph was, like Mary, handpicked by God to parent God Incarnate. There is no greater resume for parenthood than this. Joseph loved our baby Lord more than he loved himself. Joseph was open to obeying the messengers of God who did not “come” to him, but rather, “appeared” to him in a dream. Angels are always with us. They keep themselves indiscernible to our senses. Angels don’t come to us, they drop their cover when we need God’s intervention. God works through us, for us. We, especially fathers, should emulate Joseph in being strong, silent lovers and protectors of our children. Joseph lived a life of love for Mary and Jesus. And, sometimes running away is God’s plan for salvation, such as the families trying to escape devastation in Afghanistan. Let us also love as Joseph did and do what we can as a part of God’s dream.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John