Its nearly Christmas so we began with a brief discussion of how we celebrate Christmas at our work place. Then, as an opening question we shared instances in which we were told something that we had trouble believing. This mostly centered on situations in which we either had or heard of patients who had experienced unexpected healings. One hard to believe instance that was raised was the actual Gospel – that we can gain our salvation with a profession of faith without the added baggage of trying to gain our salvation through works. This discussion of believing the unbelievable lead us to our study of a little discussed character in the Christmas story, Joseph, and what we can learn from him.
Our first reading was from Matt 1:18-25 in which Joseph is visited by an angle in his dream and told not to divorce Mary for the child she carries is from the Holy Spirit. We discussed how difficult this would be to believe. We pointed out the options Joseph had at that time. He could follow the Mosaic Law which could have lead to Mary’s death but what he did was the loving thing and took her as his wife and raised Jesus as his own son. We spent time discussing how his taking her as his wife was actually breaking the law and then described instances when in our lives we have “bent the rules” to do the right thing. In our practices this sometimes entailing giving free care or not charging a co-pay when the third party rules say we have to. Also mentioned were times in our home lives when the rules were not followed so that we can do the right thing. It was pointed out that Jesus also at times did not strictly follow the laws of Moses. He was accused of breaking the sabbath by reaping grain from the fields and by healing on the sabbath. This shows that when the Law and God’s love are in conflict, God’s love always wins out.
We then read Matt 2:13-15, 19-23 in which Joseph is instructed first to flee from Herod and latter told to return form Egypt. We talked about the difficulties of these trips and what they would have been like. We made notice of how readily Joseph was obedient and took on the role of protector of his family. We shared instances in which we have been called upon to do arduous things and how we accomplished those with God’s help.
We noted how in each of these three passages it is noted that these events occurred to fulfill an Old Testament prophesy. In that way Joseph turns out to be the agent God uses to fulfill his prophesies. Because this is such a mind boggling idea that God could inspire prophesies from hundreds of years previously to affect events in the time of Jesus, a long discussion occurred concerning our own difficulty comprehending how big a God we have. The murder of the Innocents described in Matthew 2 really bothers people as to why God allows such things to occur. These are some of the mysteries that we deal with but never really solve.