Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-24

As we draw closer to our celebration of Christmas, our readings turn our attention to the birth of Jesus. But they do it in very different ways.

The prophet Jeremiah describes a time of restored fortunes for the people of Israel. After years of exile, God promises to bring them home. In addition, God promises to give them a wise and just king. This event is so significant that it will eclipse their exodus from Egypt. We believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise.

But God’s promises are not always fulfilled in the ways that we expect. Matthew describes the birth of Jesus as personal crisis for his parents, especially St. Joseph. Joseph has conflicting feelings: He feels confusion and shame because Mary is pregnant and he knows that he is not the father. He is a righteous man, an observer of the Jewish law, but he cannot bring himself to enforce that law on the woman he loves. It is only through the message of an angel in a dream that Joseph understands what is really happening. It is only through his own faith and courage that he is able to follow the will of God.

We call Jesus Emmanuel, “God is with us.” But God is not always with us in the ways that we expect. What matters in the end is that we are with God. +