Monday, December 30, 2013
THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST (PART 1) ( St. Nikolai Velimirovic )
"But the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:
After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with
child of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 1:18).
Prior to this verse, the Evangelist had given the genealogy of the Lord Jesus—more precisely, that of righteous Joseph—from the tribe of Judah and the house of David. In this genealogy, the Evangelist listed men who were born from men in a natural way, such as all mortal men on earth
are born. He then suddenly begins to describe the Lord's birth in the following way: "But the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows..." With this but, he wants to show the unusual and supernatural nature of His birth, which is completely dissimilar from the manner of birth of all Joseph's recorded
Mary, His mother, was betrothed to Joseph. In the eyes of the world, this betrothal was seen as an introduction to married life; but in the eyes of Mary and Joseph it could not be seen like this. Sought with tears from God, the Virgin Mary
was consecrated to God by her parents' vow. She, on her part, voluntarily took this vow made by her parents upon herself, as is seen in her many years of service in the Temple at Jerusalem. Could she have followed her own inclinations, she would undoubtedly have spent the rest of her life in the Temple, like Anna the daughter of Phanuel (Lk.2:36-37). However, the law ruled otherwise, and so it had to be. She was betrothed to Joseph not to live in marriage with him, but in order to escape marriage.
St. Ignatius says that the Virgin was betrothed "that His birth should be concealed from the devil. So that the devil should think of Him as born of a married woman and not a virgin.""Before they came together..."
These words do not mean that they afterwards came together as man and wife, or that this was in the Evangelist's mind. The Evangelist is, in this case, interested only in the birth of the Lord Jesus, and nothing more. He writes the above words in order to show that Christ’s birth was without the coming together of man and woman. Therefore,
understand the wise words of the Evangelist as though they had been written thus: "and without their coming together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit."
How did Joseph react to the knowledge of the Virgin Mary's pregnancy? "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly"(Mt. 1:19).
He acted, as we see, in obedience to God's law. He was obedient to God's will insofar as it had up till then been revealed to the Israelites. He also acted in humility before God.
"Justify not thyself," warns the wise Sirach (WSir. 7:5). That is, do not force too much justice on those who sin, but feel your own weakness and your own sins, and strive with mercy to lighten justice towards sinners.
Imbued with this spirit, Joseph did not consider giving the Virgin Mary over to justice for the suspected sin. "And not willing to make her a public example, he was minded to put her away
secretly." This plan of his shows us what an
exemplary man Joseph was: exemplary in justice and in mercy, such a one as the spirit of the old Law was able to instruct. With him, all things were as simple and clear as they could be in the soul of a God-fearing man.
St. Nikolai Velimirovic