Thought of the day
Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18
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"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home"

Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church 
Homilies on the « Missus est » no. 2, 13-15 (trans. St Mary’s Community, York)
"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home"

“Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly" (Mt 1,19). Truly, because he was just, he would not expose her to shame; for as he would not have been just had he countenanced one that was guilty, neither would he have been just if he had condemned one whose innocence had been proved. Since, then, he was just and unwilling to expose her, why had he a mind to divorce her? I give you on this point not my own opinion, but that of the Fathers: Joseph's reason was the same as Peter's when he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," (Lk 5,8) and that of the centurion when he exclaimed, “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof" (Mt 8,8).

Joseph looked on himself as a sinner and as unworthy to entertain one in whom he beheld a superhuman dignity. He beheld with awe in the Virgin-Mother a certain sign of the Divine Presence, and as he could not penetrate the mystery, he wished to divorce her. Saint Peter was struck with awe at the greatness of Christ's power; the centurion by the majesty of Christ’s presence; and Joseph was naturally afraid at the novelty and splendor of the miracle and the depth of the mystery. We need not wonder that Joseph thought himself unworthy of the society of such a Virgin when we hear Saint Elizabeth exclaim with fear and trembling: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1,43)…

But why divorce her secretly? So that people might not seek out the reason for their separation or come to demand an explanation. What could this just man have replied to… people always ready to dispute? If he had concealed his thoughts, if he had asserted his fiancée’s purity, those sceptics would have mocked him and stoned Mary… So Joseph, who wanted neither to lie nor to blame, acted rightly… But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid! What is born of her comes from the Holy Spirit.”
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