Matthew and the Upright Prayer (Mt 1:18-25)

In his Gospel, Matthew mentions nothing about the Annunciation of the angel to Mary which resulted in the Incarnation of the Word. Instead Matthew begins with the annunciation to Joseph who realizes Mary is pregnant, but not by him. Although Matthew says that this pregnancy is through the power of the Holy Spirit, it seems that Joseph didn’t know that. He only knew what he could see. Being an upright man, a just man, he would quietly divorce this woman who was to be his wife. We assume he also loved her and could not allow the law, which he also loved, get hold of her. Now the Gospel doesn’t mention that Joseph prayed about this matter, however, he most certainly must have since he was upright. One thing that the Gospel does show us is that an upright life in itself is a prayer. Joseph was a man of God. It seems he was both fervent and devout. God saw his prayer of anguish, his prayer of concern for Mary’s safety above his own humiliation.

God sent an angel to answer an unasked prayer. Proceed as planned, the angel said. He explained the role of the Spirit. He calmed Joseph’s fear: Take Mary. She will give birth to a Son. You, as her husband, as head of the family, as foster-father, are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Imagine how long Joseph would be processing such a thought! This potentially tragic event has taken an unbelievable turn. A prophecy dear to every Jewish heart has been fulfilled. So Joseph took Mary as his wife and lived with her in God’s sight. It is amazing how the two of them continued to live as normal people knowing, that literally, God was with them. Only the upright of heart shall see God.

In the kingdom here and now, I am a privileged woman. I’ve been called, chosen, graced, and blessed, but I must confront myself: am I really upright? How often I think of my life as upside down, meaning things are out of order with me. Sometimes things don’t go as I planned; sometimes a monkey wrench gets thrown into the mix; sometimes circumstances try to trip me up. I may even actually pray in those moments, but am I simply asking for a quick-fix? Would I change my ways if an angel suddenly appeared with an explanation? This is the crux: are my everyday ways those of the Lord? Am I standing upright in front of God? Is my life a prayer as was the life of Joseph?

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