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Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent 2018

December 18, 2018

Scripture: Jer. 23: 5 – 8; Mt 1: 18 – 25

“Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever” (Ps 72).  Justice is an interesting concept.  It is used both secularly and religiously, but can mean different things.  Certainly, God’s justice is different than our civil notion of justice.  Jeremiah proclaims the raising of a righteous shoot to reign and govern wisely.  And so a justice that bears wisdom is where our God aims.

This wisdom tempered justice is reflected in the gospel.  Here we have the story of an “irregular marriage.” Joseph is contemplating rejecting Mary because he finds out that she is with child – a child not fathered by him.  But in a dream Joseph is encouraged to carry on and take Mary as his wife.

Imagine Joseph in this story, a good and faithful man who is asked to do something different than what he understood his faith would ask of him.  What did Joseph have to overcome within himself to follow this invitation?   It seems effortless in the reading and maybe my own cynicism is crowding out the overwhelming faith of Joseph, yet scripture tells us he was contemplating “divorcing her quietly”.  So I wonder what moved him to a different place?  The key lies in his dream, of course, but I still wonder about his humanness and his ability to embrace a plan that was different than what he imagined?

What we have in this story is a tale of God’s justice.  Human justice, according to Jewish law, called for divorce at least or stoning at worst.  God’s justice called for mercy and the unlikely plan of the “righteous shoot” being brought out of something unrighteous by Jewish standards.  Joseph decides to participate with that divine plan.  Even in his conception Christ is turning the world on its head.  We hear this echoed in Mary’s Magnificat.

So as we await the coming of the savior, we can ask ourselves, how is it that we allow God’s justice to affect our lives?  How do we participate with it?

PRAYER: Dear God, we pray that your justice will flourish and bring the fullness of peace.  As we await Christmas, help us to focus on the coming of your Son who is Emmanuel -God with us– the fullness of your peace in our time.  May we feed on the feast on the wisdom he brings in his birth.  May it give us strength to proclaim this peaceful, merciful justice to the world.  Amen.

By Chris McCullough