THE Gospel of Matthew (1:18-25) says: This is how Jesus Christ was born: Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.
While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins”. ….
On another note, these short and almost bashful sentences do not dare to unveil the mystery of Mary, the virgin through whom life on earth touches God and offers itself as an oblation. A messenger breaks through the night and speaks with silent words: the world is open to the active presence of God.
Mary was engaged. Engagement gave to the Jewish people practically every right of marriage, especially conjugal rights. The only difference was that women continued to live under the parent’s tutelage and in their parental home. The Jews were markedly a “macho” society. A woman necessarily to a man, either to the father, her husband, or her son. Mary was already the wife of Joseph, but she could not be under his authority until he brought her to his home (vv. 20 and 24).
With reference to the virginity of Mary, see Luke 1:26.
The virginity of Mary was not in keeping with the Jewish mentality that gave first place to fecundity. It was not so unusual that Joseph would accept such a situation. At this time certain Jews belonging to the party of the Essenes lived celibacy, as did the monks.
Joseph made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. The Gospel is not precise as to his reasons for so doing. In any case it is unthinkable that people might have doubted Mary’s fidelity.
The intervention of the angel in the Gospel is not to reassure Joseph but to inform him of his role in the plan of God. You shall call him ‘Jesus’, and you will receive him as your son”. Joseph was a “descendant of David” and Jesus adopted by Joseph would be a legitimate descendant of David. Most probably Mary did not even belong to the tribe of Judah, which was that of David, but like the cousin Elizabeth, she belonged to a family of priests of the tribe of Levi.
On another note, a political one, at present there is a discussion on a so-called same sex marriage. This, of course, is nonsense. Same sex marriage is a ‘contradictio in terminis’. A marriage is a union between a man and a woman. If two men or two women want to live together, that is their business. But don’t call that a marriage.
I want to say also a Merry Christmas to JB and the other members of the staff of Sun Star and to all the readers of my column.
(For your comment email: email@example.com)