Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jesse Tree Reflections: December 23 and 24

Dec. 23
Optional Reading: Matthew 1:18-25 (St. Joseph)
Symbol: Carpenter’s Square

“But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” Matthew 1: 20-21

We can imagine how puzzled St. Joseph must have been when Mary returned from St. Elizabeth’s house, where she had been for her first three months of pregnancy, and he realized that she was with child.  Mary was so obviously a child of God that it was hard to imagine that she had done anything wrong, and St. Joseph certainly didn’t want to hand her over to the law.  His decision to divorce her quietly was made out of compassion for her.

But the angel would not leave Joseph long in doubt.  No, Mary was still the woman he thought she was, the holy child of God who had arranged to enter into a marriage with him on the agreement that they would live like brother and sister.  This child was a miraculous sign of God’s love and His great plan for the salvation of His people; this child was the promise foretold in the Garden of Eden, the one who would crush the serpent and restore the friendship between God and Man.  And Joseph was to be their earthly protectors, and act as an earthly father to the Son of God Himself!

It is hard to imagine how Joseph felt about such a huge responsibility, but we know what he did--like Mary, he immediately accepted God’s will and took on the task of raising the Christ-child.  We look to St. Joseph to teach us how to approach the Son of God in our needs and prayers.

Dec. 24
Optional Reading: Luke 2:1-5 (The Census)
Symbol: A Scroll

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child.”  Luke 2:4-5

The fullness of time has come.  The hour is nearly set for the birth of the Son of God, the Savior, the Lord.  Even the secular authorities of the world have a part to play: a Roman census being taken is the reason for Joseph and Mary to make the journey to Bethlehem, to fulfill a long-ago prophecy about where the Savior will be born.

There is a hushed expectation around Christmas Eve.  The anticipation of the delights of Christmas day, the hour drawing near for the beautiful Christmas Mass, and many such things make it hard for us to wait. 

Soon, soon, Christmas Day will dawn, and all the joys of Christmas will be revealed once again.  But tonight we remember that we are still waiting for the Lord, for His second coming in power and glory; we are waiting that endless Christmas joy of Heaven when we will be in His wonderful presence forever.  The joys of Christmas are but a small taste of what wonders lie ahead for those who believe in Christ and follow Him.

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