Unborn Jesus Our Hope
Chapter 6 - Excerpt
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Own Son
From a legal and social point of view, Joseph would be recognized as the father of the baby Jesus. According to the Israelite understanding of marriage in those days, a child conceived during the time of betrothal was a "legitimate" child, and the reputations of both mother and child were thus protected.
“Joseph’s adoption of Jesus is effected in the two acts with which the account (Mt 1:24 25) closes, and which are in fact its most essential elements. ‘He took his wife.... And he called his name Jesus.’" This constitutes a turning point in the life of Unborn Jesus. His earthly father reaches out to Him, figuratively embracing Him with wholehearted acceptance.
The relationship between Joseph and Unborn Jesus becomes very real. Fr. Faber states that Joseph was "part of the scheme of redemption" and "assists God in keeping the mystery of the Incarnation a secret".
Joseph begins a secret "adoption" process while Jesus is yet an unborn child ("he took his wife" and her unborn child) and then the process is later completed with Joseph's naming of the child after birth and registering the child in Bethlehem during the census.
Jesus needed to be accepted into a family, adopted into a family, and there existed a vacuum until that day when Joseph stepped forward in obedient faith to lovingly accept his son.
Pope John Paul II says: “Joseph is the one whom God chose to be the ‘overseer of the Lord's birth’, the one who has the responsibility to look after the Son of God's ‘ordained’ entry into the world, in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws.”
When Joseph awoke from his dream and “took his wife” he now had an entirely new perspective on his life. He has just received two persons, two priceless gifts, and an assignment from Almighty God. Not gifts as possessions of course, but lives entrusted into his care.
What a vote of confidence in one’s abilities. The focus of his life is now his spouse, his child and the Messianic/Incarnation Mission – a joyful threefold blessing within his heart, a treble load upon his frail human shoulders.
In our study of Joseph thus far we have mentioned the awkward and even bewildering circumstances surrounding the conception, gestation and birth of Jesus. Are we not reminded of some of life's challenges confronting us today?
Men can find in Joseph a noble and dignified model for responding to the mystery of each new human life as it makes its "ordained entry" into our modern world. By turning to God in prayer, for guidance and support, and by trusting in the Lord's promises and shouldering one's responsibilities, every man facing difficult circumstances should likewise find hope in the life of his unborn and newborn child.
And also, others – grandparents, family members and friends – can all learn the profound truth about Joseph accepting this new human life. All those who are looking in from the outside, can find the blessing of solidarity with a new mother and her unborn or newborn baby.