First Reading: Micah 5:1-4A
The LORD says: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. (Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, And the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel.) He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; And they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 13:6AB, 6C
With delight I rejoice in the Lord. Though I trusted in your mercy, let my heart rejoice in your salvation. Let me sing of the LORD, “He has been good to me.”
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23
The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile. After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
They say the biggest blessings come in unlikely forms. Can you imagine being Joseph; a completely human and fallible human being given a staring role in one of biggest blessings in human history? Jesus was created as He was and His mother, Mary, was conceived without Original Sin, but Joseph? Joseph was born with Original Sin, like you or me.
Sometimes I feel that we don't talk about Joseph nearly as often as we should. Sometimes I wonder how frustrating it would have been to be a good man in that family bust still struggling with our sinful nature. Was it frustrating? Was it inspiring? Did he feel inadequate or unworthy? Did he feel just like we do, day in and day out?
No wonder he tries to quietly, politely get out of things. I can only imagine that perhaps the news of Mary's maternity did not seem like much of a blessing at that moment. Perhaps he was angry, perhaps he was embarrassed, or perhaps he was just confused by it all.
And yet he made an amazing choice—he swallowed any pride that may have hurt and he did the job that God gave him to do; to love the family that was given to him, raise Jesus and love Mary. He took the blessing in disguise and through that he blessed the world.
I wonder how many times we turn away from a blessing from God and isn't this what the world at large wants us to think? That if something isn't perfectly timed, financed, and aesthetically pleasing that no good can come from it? How many children have we lost to this idea? How many neighbors have gone without help? How many times have we lost a chance to bless the world by accepting what is given to us, exactly how and exactly when it is given? The world wants us to turn away the less than our version of perfect, the blessings in disguise, and we must remember that we are not for this world.
Today I want us to look at our lives, and the ups and downs that fill it, in a different light. I want you to find the blessing in the broken, in the ill-timed, and the unappealing. I want you to find the blessing in that thing that threatens to embarrass you, that person who angers you, and the world that saddens you.
When your heart drops at a turn for the worst or a fork in the road, let us not stomp our feet and pout; let's remember to find the blessing in the moment and say "God, you have been good to me."
Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home). She shares about making the life she wants with the life she's been given over here.