Tuesday, December 09, 2014
A Compassionate Heart
Joseph is quite a curious character. We don't actually hear him say anything, and we only hear about his presence and activity around Jesus' birth, but what we do know, describes a humble man, chosen for his understanding of God's love, deeper than the laws set to guide it.
When Joseph first discovers Mary's pregnancy, he makes a shocking decision. To us, it seems like the "Christian" thing to do: forgive her and let her go. But the Jewish law(recorded in Deuteronomy 22) held that if a woman who was pledged to marry is found not to be a virgin, then she is to be stoned…to death…it doesn’t even matter if she’s pregnant or not. This righteous up-standing son of the house of David chose to have compassion on her, and release her from their agreement.
Then after his dream, he does an even more remarkable thing, and he takes her into his own care, as his own wife, the one who will one day mother many of his children, and he commits to watch over this one as his own.
He is painted as the most obedient of men, calm and direct, but he makes radical choices in light of what society would have expected from him. His heart was prepared to see God’s opportunities to speak love, and the first response was not discipline or retribution, but grace and forgiveness. The second response wasn't a teaching of right and wrong, but a hand reaching out in reconciliation and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Joseph welcomed Christ in the faith that God was at work through a confusing and difficult situation. First God would mend his broken heart, and then God would mend the world.
How might God be calling you to soften your heart towards a brother or sister in need of God’s love, in need of a new beginning, in need of a helping hand, in need of a light in the darkness? How might God break open our hearts to see the world in a radically new way this Christmas?