Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 1,18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.

He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.

She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.'

Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home;


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

There are only a few days remained until Christmas and we are meeting the figure of Joseph. Yesterday the Gospel of the genealogy of Jesus presented Joseph, "the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born." Today, his figure stands before our eyes in this Gospel, which is among the few in which Joseph’s figure appears. Matthew, in presenting the way "the birth of Jesus took place," seems to highlight its irregularities. Matthew tells us about Joseph’s plight due to what his eyes were seeing. Joseph was the fiancé of Mary and, according to the Jewish tradition, this was in fact already like a marriage. For this reason, when he became aware that Mary was pregnant, he felt betrayed as her husband. Necessarily, he was expected to conduct an official divorce from Mary. As a consequence, Mary would have appeared as an adulterous woman and, therefore, refused and neglected by their relatives and all the inhabitants of the village. This was a truly tragic situation. We can imagine the anxiety of this young husband, who feels betrayed by Mary, a woman, who certainly seemed extraordinary in his eyes. Perhaps because of the high respect that Joseph had for Mary, he decided to repudiate her in secret. Joseph loved Mary in a way that allowed him to interpret the law in a more sensitive manner; I would say a merciful and loving interpretation. Yet that righteous man, even more sensitive than the law, if he had succeeded in his intention - which for him and the law were considered right - he would have done something against the most profound "justice" of God. There is a "beyond" of God, which the angel revealed to him during his sleep. Joseph listened to the angel sent by God. He then understood the mystery of Mary, and he agreed to engage his life with that mystery. Joseph renounced his personal projects, including the fair and honest ones, and he decided to adhere to the dream of God for Mary and for the world. Therefore, after Mary, he became the second faithful believer. The angel continued to speak to him and he revealed the place that he occupies in the history of salvation: "You are to name him Jesus." Joseph must recognize and say who this son is. A few days before Christmas, Joseph becomes the image of the believer, and the story tells us how to live the mystery we are preparing to celebrate: we have to listen to the Word of God and take with us that Jesus is about to be born.