Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent XXIV

While Matthew does not actually say it was Gabriel, surely he must have been the unnamed angel who showed up in Joseph's dream life. Obviously, he was an angel on a mission. First, he appeared to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist telling him that not even old age would keep him and his wife, Elizabeth, from having a son. And then he shows up a few months later in Nazareth to tell the virgin Mary that she will bear a son conceived by the Holy Spirit. As an angel on the prowl, it only makes sense to figure he is the one who said the convincing word to Joseph as he was trying to sort out the unbelievable news about Mary's pregnancy.
What the angel did was to challenge Joseph to make the harder choice. The easy choice would have been separating himself from Mary. The easy choice would have been allowing his ego to dictate his actions. The easy choice would have been choosing a way other than the way God had chosen for him. The angel said, "...take Mary as your wife..." (Matthew 1:20), but it would have been easier to simply walk away from her.
If we allow the scenario to be a model for us,we have no choice but to understand that God often challenges us to lay aside the easy way for the hard way. Walking by the guy in need of a hand-out is easier than offering a helping hand. Forgetting spiritual disciplines is easier than practicing them. Harboring ill will is easier than forgiving. Had Joseph said, "No," instead of "Yes," his story would have been radically different. Such is true for us as well.

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