The danger of leaving Joseph behind
Wow! Again, so many ideas to ponder. I’m amazed at all I don’t know. And it is so much richer to read this then the simple “keep Christ in Christmas “ message that is plastered around our tiny village. Thank you Diana for teaching us and expanding my views.
Thinking along these same lines a few years ago I put together my own little bit of prose dedicated to Joseph who happens to also be the patron saint of Canada - you figure.
“Ode to An Ordinary Joe”
You were not the star that caught the attention of Magi from the East
Or the tirade of an old King
The Holy Spirit did not fill your voice with prophecy or song
Angels did not swoon in your favor as the blessed one.
It was all about Jesus – with his mother Mary.
Not much room for you in the manger, dear Joseph.
Joseph, did you know?
Maybe it was - just a dream.
We have a lot of nerve to ask you for a photo op
Stand a little more to the left behind Mary, behind Jesus
Next to the cattle a lowing
In the light isn’t Mary beautiful?
Joseph is there room in the shade beside you for one more?
Actually there are several of us outside
Like you we swoon in the limelight.
We find home in the shadow away from the light of the camera.
Patron Saint, how oddly such acclamation must ring.
In a little town, on a one-star night,
Inconspiculusly you kept watch over Mary and baby Jesus
Not to the beat of a boy drummer
Nor choirs of angels on high
With only faith and obedience as your companions,
You stood out without standing out.
Joseph, if someone forgot to say it,
Blessed art thou.
Beautiful reflections, Diana. The Joseph typology (how Matthew frames the Joseph of his gospel against the background of the OT Joseph) is fascinating. I had understood that the flight into Egypt was an echo of that earlier Joseph’s descent into Egypt (likewise under extreme duress!), and his subsequent role in saving his people.
What’s new to me here is the possibility that Matthew also intends for us to hear in his story of Joseph a resonance of that earlier Joseph’s culminating observation: that “what was meant for evil, God has meant for good.”
If so, then that indeed lends one more bit of support to Jane Schaberg’s thesis, based on her meticulous exegesis of this passage. She argues that Matthew, far from articulating what later came to be known as a doctrine of “virginal conception” (according to which Jesus’ biological conception involves no human biological father), was actually assuming what many in his audience also assumed: that there was an unnamed biological father, whom Joseph knew to have been someone other than himself (most likely, a rapist).
This was a widespread assumption, right from the beginning of the Christian story (and for centuries thereafter). On this account, Matthew’s Joseph, rather than suppressing that story with a counter-narrative of virginal conception, actually says, in effect, “So what? The biological paternity of this child remains a dark mystery to me, but I have it on unimpeachable authority that ‘what is conceived in her is from the holy spirit.’ Therefore, I trust that ‘what was meant for evil, God has meant for good.’”
"What was meant as evil, God meant for good." So is this an appropriate way to interpret my child abuse and rape? Did God mean those things to happen for the good of my later life?
How other than a “human father” could Jesus have been conceived?
Good point, Diana.
Do you know Elizabeth George's marvellous novel 'Missing Jospeh'?
Wow! After reading this interpretation for the second time I am deep in my own experience of God. I am not sure where this is going but I will spend time contemplating for sure. I thank you Diana.
Thank you. What helpful and clear points. I love the God/ Jesus I am getting to know in my 50's, years after seminary. Years later now learning I don't need Mary to be a virgin. I do need a God who sends angels to scandalized women's significant others and makes them both the cornerstone of our restoration story.
8:58 PM EST My Advent journey on Sundays has included Reading Dianna's Musings first . Than going to my membership church in Indianapolis and hopefully getting most of the sermon--today I did. and the Trinity Wall Street for music and sermon. Wow what a morning' from Dianna, The two Josephs and "What was meant for evil, God meant for good." Then in Indy , Pastor's Linda emphasized the "Call to courageous love." Trinity Wall Street woman Priest spoke of 'the Presence of God in our lives. God desires and chooses to be with us.' Three wise teachers gave me so much to reflect on all day and for the week and weeks ahead. And I will remember the Trinity Priest's name and post credit another time. I apologize. I got the message. Thank you Dianna for your insights especially on this day and every Sunday. It is so helpful to start my week with you and the cottage community.
I LIKE YOUR EARTHQUAKE OF HOPE. ALSO, V ERY INTERESTING REFLECTION ON JOSEPH. I THINK HE SHOULD BE STUDIED AND ACCLAIMED MORE. HIS STAYING WITH MARY. BEING RESPONSIBLE HE IS A GREAT ROLE MODEL FOR MEN TODAY ESPECIALLY WITH SO MUCH ABANDONMENT OF CHILDREN AND WOMEN TODAY
wonderful, just wonderful. Thank you Diana!
So much human imagination in Matthew’s gospel account, even as it begins, quite authoritatively, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way” … I’ve never ever heard before the idea of Mary having conceived by rape…but, I agree: that “the spirit is always holy”…(and doesn’t only live in Scripture accounts, or be experienced by Christians calling it Holy Spirit). “The spirit endues the universe with life, beauty, and justice. And, as for Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit, I'm of the mind that every child is, indeed, the same. After all, with my Quaker roots showing, the Spirit -- the Inner Light -- dwells in all of us. The spirit is everywhere, with us. God is with us. That's the point of Emmanuel, the point of the Matthew story, and certainly the point of my discussion here.” And indeed, the unknown author of Matthew’s narrative, does not insist on a virgin birth…yet insists that it was because Joseph wanted to marry her, that the conception of Jesus had to be of the Holy Spirit, as if only that conception could’ve been “from the Holy Spirit”. Troublesome for me, but I let it go, & appreciate how you’ve tried to bring some light to the two Joseph accounts.
Wow!!! I have never considered that The birth narratives included Joseph being among the marginalized. Thank you.
If I were to be honest I, personally, would not use the magical language of the Old Testament that God used evil for good. I like to give God credit for His creativity and choice to TRANSFORM evil into good. It is a choice that we can make, too.
Wow! What a wonderful healing perspective for this
season of advent! Thank you.
Ooops, that was meant as a response to Teri. Sorry