The Gospel reading from the Mass for December 18 is Matthew 1:18-25.

The greatest honor ever bestowed on any man is Joseph’s selection to be the foster father of the Son of God. Prepared from the beginning of time, God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled by by the birth of His Son to a perfect Virgin who is married to St. Joseph, the holiest of men.

The Gospel of Matthew summarizes the more detailed Infancy Narrative of Luke (Luke 1-2). Prior to the miraculous conception of the Christ, Mary and Joseph are betrothed; in ancient Judaism, couples were formally married but did not live together and consummate their marriage for up to a year. During this period of abstinence, with Mary’s fiat, Jesus Christ is conceived in Mary’s womb through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, perhaps told by Mary of Christ’s miraculous conception, first decides to break off the marriage, but is convinced by an angel in a dream of God’s glorious plan; Joseph give his own “fiat” and takes Mary and the unborn Child into his home.

While various explanations for Joseph’s initial reluctance have been offered (suspicion, confusion, reverence), given his holiness, Joseph likely felt unprepared and unworthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is perfectly compelling and truthful; Mary would not have kept the truth from Joseph and Joseph would have believed her, for he was a supremely religious and holy man who was specifically chosen by God to be the Son’s foster father. Christ, present in Mary’s womb, would also have convinced and overwhelmed Joseph with the truth (as He does with Elizabeth the the yet to be born John the Baptist – Luke 1:41-45). Being holy, humble and awed by God’s miracle in Mary, Joseph would have not felt worthy or prepared to take on such a awesome responsibility. It is only through the angel’s revelation Joseph is finally convinced; once convinced, Joseph lives out his vocation to be the celibate husband of Mary and foster father to the Son of God.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ participates in the selection of His own earthly parents and sends the angel to Joseph. Son of Man, Christ comforts Mary and Joseph while still in the womb. Divine Prophet, Christ inspires Isaiah’s prophecy of His birth which helps convince the unworthy Joseph to accept foster fatherhood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) After hearing of Christ’s birth for many years, the stupendous truth about the many miracles associated with the Son of God’s birth can be overlooked. Ponder deeply today’s Gospel (and Luke 1-2) during this Advent and be awed at God’s mysterious plan.

2) A great and beautify mystery (and dogma) of the Church is the truth that Mary was “ever virgin.” During Advent, refresh your understanding of Our Queen’s Perfect Virginity and Motherhood (CCC 487-507) and pray for Christ to help you to honor Mary as He Himself honored Our Lady.

3) Modern society denigrates men and the absolute essential need for fathers. During Advent, meditate on the truth that God the Father insisted that the Son of God have an earthly father, St. Joseph (CCC 437, 532), and pray for Christ to help you to grow in your role as father (all men are called to be spiritual fathers; some also become biological fathers). St. Joseph, pray for us!