Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

How to solve family problems- Joseph as an example

by Rev. Sister Deena O.S.M.

A Reflection on the Gospel Reading for the Revelation to Joseph

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 1: 18-25

Joseph and Mary had just got betrothed and were looking forward to beginning a new family soon. But even before they got together, a big crisis erupted between them. Joseph is told that Mary is with a child! One can imagine the emotional tsunami of a husband in waiting under such circumstances. He must felt betrayed, broken and totally confused and even angry. This was an open violation of a marriage betrothal.

Joseph could have reacted very emotionally and gone public. The consequence would have been fatal for young Mary since according to the custom of the day, such women had to be stoned to death. As any normal man Joseph also would have gone through the turmoil of emotions but he being a just man, did not act immediately as a reaction. Instead, he chose the path of pro-action. Namely, weigh the fact not only emotionally but spiritually and in mature manner. This is the difference between reaction and pro-action. The first gives a temporary emotional satisfaction of revenge, but does not in any way help to solve the problem.

It is worth posing and reflecting on the manner Joseph the just man faced a crisis in spousal relationship. He reflected much and must have prayed a lot. Then he waited on the Lord for some clarity. He knew that one should not act when in an emotionally disturbed and angry state of mind. Also, he thought about the plight of Mary first rather than his emotional hurt and legitimate right. In other words, he had love in his heart. He thought to himself: "if I go public it will have tragic consequences for young Mary and therefore I will secretly cancel our betrothal". (Mathew I: 19). It is only just that he could not marry her since she was with child from an unknown source. This is a typical case of what we call today as win-win method of transaction.

Because Joseph waited on Lord, He sent an angel in his dream and revealed the truth about Mary. (Mathew 1:20). Of course, when he woke up he had to make hard decision of faith in the virgin birth like the rest of us do to this day. It is the very basis of our Christian faith. He believed and acted. Thus he took Mary as his wife. This was a bold consequential action for which perhaps the society must have despised him for the rest of his life. However, he brought blessings on himself, Mary and the whole humanity. Think of the tragic consequences if Joseph had acted rashly! Mary together with the child would perhaps been stoned to death. This is a great example of how families should approach crises: pray, reflect, wait on the Lord, believe in angels and make decisions based on faith and love.

About the Author:

Reverend Sister Deena is the Mother Superior at the Convent of Bethlehem St. Mary, Njaralloor, Kizhakkambalam, Kerala. The Sisters of the Bethlehem Monastic Community of Malankara Orthodox Church will soon celebrate 75th year of its founding.

See Also:

Devotional Thoughts on The Revelation to St. Joseph
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Revelation to Joseph
by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil

Devotional Thoughts for Annunciation to Joseph
by Rev. Fr. Prof. Kurien Daniel

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