Joseph’s Dream

“Joseph’s Dream”
A reflection on Matthew 1:18-24
Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

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 conceive 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.

Matthew 1:18-24

Joseph the Just

Joseph, a man tried by fire, emerged shining like gold. Betrothal had established Joseph and Mary as husband and wife under Jewish law. But when Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant before they lived together, he decided to divorce her quietly rather than expose her to shame. Mirroring the divine mercy, Joseph’s righteousness far exceeded the law, which permitted stoning in cases of infidelity (Deuteronomy 22:21).

Son of David

Heaven withheld the truth from Joseph just long enough to manifest his extraordinary virtue. Matthew writes that the just man, “having pondered these things” (Matthew 1:20), fell into a deep sleep. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, addressing him as “Joseph, son of David.” Although Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, his royal ancestry established his adopted son as the true “Son of David.”

Husband and Guardian

“Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home,” the angel continued. “For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” The Lord affirmed Mary’s status as Joseph’s “wife” and charged him with the illustrious role of her husband and guardian of the Incarnate Son of God. Joseph, who never probed Mary about the child, received enlightenment about his miraculous conception from the Holy Spirit.

Foster Father

In ancient Jewish custom, fathers legally name their children. Thus Joseph, as the foster father of Jesus, received the responsibility of naming him Yehoshua (or Yeshua for short), which means “YHWH (God) saves.” Joseph’s heaven-sent dream fulfilled the dreams of the patriarchs before him. While Abraham slumbered, he foresaw the slavery and liberation of his descendants (Genesis 15:13-14). Jacob dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12). Through Mary, the Holy Spirit conceived the liberator of humankind, the theandric stairway between heaven and earth. Reading Isaiah through the lens of the Incarnation, Matthew identified the young woman (almah) and her son Emmanuel as the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus (Isaiah 7:14).

Obedient Servant

Joseph, who had been specially chosen to be the spiritual father of the Son of God, awoke with an obedient heart and welcomed Mary into his home.

He made him master of His house, and ruler over all His possessions.

Psalm 105:21
Antiphon for the Little Office of Saint Joseph

While Joseph slept, he received God’s secret
Of Mary’s child from the Holy Spirit.

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