May we have eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand that beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born within ourselves and in the world.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
In the Gospel of Luke, Joseph is a model of quiet obedience in the narrative background. It’s easy when reading Luke to overlook Joseph and his significance if we do not pay closer attention. Luke describes Jesus as “the supposed” son of Joseph, because the virginal conception of Jesus is recounted as a private matter among close family. Still Luke honors Joseph’s role as Mary’s betrothed, tracing Jesus’ royal Davidic lineage through Joseph and even farther back through primeval biblical lineages to Adam.
Joseph travels with his family for the census in Bethlehem, which Luke reminds us Bethlehem is “the city of David,” because Joseph is from the lineage of David. This emphasis also occurs in the story of the Shepherds in Luke, when the Shepherds receive the announcement that a Savior is born in “the city of David.”
Mary and Joseph are consistently referred to as the “parents” of Jesus and act together in Luke’s story as the gospel writer describes over and over what “they” did together. (Luke 2:6-7, 16, 22, 27, 39, 41-46, 48-51). Joseph is not only revered in Christian memory for his faithful partnering with Mary in the background but is also an essential catalyst for messianic revelation. Jesus is born of Mary, but Jesus is also born to Mary and Joseph. Both parents are an important part of the big story that Luke is telling about Jesus as Messiah, a Savior from the house of David and a Savior of humankind through Adam.
Think about what roles you take as your family prepares to celebrate Christmas. How did you come to take on those roles? Consider the roles others faithfully take in this season, especially the quiet roles others play in the background that help you to better prepare for and receive the grace of the Christ-child in these days of anticipation and renewal? In what ways do you work together with others to celebrate Christmas and honor the gift of God’s grace in the world?