Welcome Home, Joseph

Sunday, December 20, 1992
| Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph is probably the most misunderstood participant in the Christmas drama. Like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Joseph might righteously complain, "I don''t get no respect!" This week we pay Joseph some of the respect he surely deserves, for without his gifts of hospitality, acceptance and love, the story of Christmas would have no beginning. And with these gifts, Joseph is a model for all who are called by God to serve in supportive roles.

The women's movement has surely succeeded in making biblical scholars and church liturgists more sensitive to the presence of all the strong, courageous, talented and sometimes wily women of faith portrayed throughout Scripture. Yet despite all that women have contributed to the faith, the most venerated woman in Christian history is still Mary, whose whole reason for being remembered is that she was a mother. In the Christmas stories, as at no other time and place in the liturgical calendar, we focus on the words and witness of a woman, and on that most quintessential of all "woman's work," giving birth.

It may be that the birth narrative in Matthew's Gospel will now find itself rediscovered by the burgeoning of the new "men's movement." If ever there was a male figure whose contributions and faithfulness have been shunted to the side, it is Joseph. Joseph is usually remembered for almost dumping Mary when she became pregnant before their formal marriage. Other than that, he is seen ...

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