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Unexpected Blessings

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.”

Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD,
when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”;
but rather, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the descendants of the house of Israel
up from the land of the north”
and from all the lands to which I banished them;
they shall again live on their own land.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19

R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds.
And blessed forever be his glorious name;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

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.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

NAB

dec 18

Consider all the friends and family we know who have experienced unexpected pregnancies. Maybe we the world are a little surprised because the couple wasn’t married, or wasn’t really together. Maybe we the world are surprised because we think they have too many kids already. How do we support them? How do we love them as Saint Joseph gently loved the Blessed Mother? Here he must have thought she had been intimate with someone else. Here he must have not wanted her to face the death by stoning adulterers suffered. He is our example of selfless kindness.

In a culture that lies to a pregnant mom and tells her abortion is a quick and forgettable fix, are we loving the mom who goes through it and offering her resources for healing? Are we supporting the single mom who keeps her baby? Are we supporting moms who want to place their child with an adoptive family? Do we offer a listening shoulder, a baby shower, a meal in her time of need?

And the friend who has an unexpected pregnancy with a houseful of children eagerly awaiting the arrival of their already-loved sibling, what about how we treat her? Is it okay for her to unload her surprise, her perplexed and complicated feelings? Can she be both thrilled to accept a new little soul to care for, and mourn the now-hurried babyhood of her former-youngest? Can we support her in her struggle within herself, and give her the love and safe space to process her gift of that child? Do we offer to babysit so she can take a nap or drop off a meal so she doesn’t have to worry about dinner?

That single unmarried mom. That mom of many with more coming. That unexpected gift of life. Let’s cherish the baby. Let’s be gentle and supportive as Saint Joseph was for whatever the mom is undergoing. Love in action is how I want to live. The Psalmist cries out that the king “shall rescue the poor when he cries out, / and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. / He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; / the lives of the poor he shall save.” Shouldn’t we get about the business of helping the King in His work?

Who in your life is unexpectedly pregnant? If not someone you know personally, what about a crisis pregnancy center or home in your area? Can you drop off a meal or volunteer your time? Let’s make these babies as loved as the Christ Child will be in our heart’s come Christmas.

photo by Edenn Yorks

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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