To belong to someone means to be a property of the person or owned by him. It also indicates when someone belongs to a particular organisation or association. Hence their decisions, rules and regulations guide whatever we do.
When we say that something belongs to us, it means we have the right ownership of that thing. When we truly belong to God in essence means when we truly have God as our Father. It is then when whatever the Father says guides our steps, decisions and actions.
We may say we belong to God but our actions and beliefs say otherwise. When we sincerely see ourselves as children of God, then we will not like to wander away from Him, thus whatever the Father says or wants us to do becomes our guiding principle. This is what Joseph teaches us in today’s reading.
Understanding the Gospel
Matthew begins the gospel by telling us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is betrothed to Joseph but before they came to live together, she was already pregnant.
Joseph chooses not to disgrace her publicly. For this will not only amount to shame but may result in Mary’s death by stoning as Deuteronomy 22:23-24 states. He decides to divorce her quietly.
Later, Joseph redresses his steps because of the message from an angel in a dream to take Mary as His wife into his home, for the child in her womb is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph obeyed and took Mary into her home.
Every action taken by Joseph in this gospel teaches us what it means when you say, you are a child of God.
Joseph accepts the will of God, over his will. When we truly belong to God, then the will of the Father comes first in every decision and action we take.
Relationship with Others
The way we relate with God will surely reflect in our day to day interaction with others. In the life of Joseph, we can surely see what it means to be righteous. The love of God and neighbour was clearly evident today.
In Jewish tradition, marriage takes some procedures. First, there is a betrothal ceremony known in Hebrew as kiddushin which is only a marriage contract arranged for the individuals by the parents. (Check a commentary on Mathew 1:18-25).
This marriage contract hence can only be broken by divorce. This is why Joseph was considering divorce in the first place.
After this, they will not begin to live together, the man and woman will continue to live with their parents for one year. This waiting period is to demonstrate how faithful they would be to each other.
Then we have the nissuin which happens a year later and includes the marriage feast, after which the groom in a grand processional march takes her bride home.
So, it is in this one-year waiting period after the betrothal to Joseph that Mary becomes pregnant. After this one year, when Joseph wanted to take her to his home, he thus discovered that Mary was pregnant already.
One can thus imagine how heartbroken Joseph would be. But in the midst of this disappointment, he did not disgrace her, he did not insult her publicly or privately but considered everything in his heart on how to solve this problem amicably and secretly to save the image of Mary. It was while He was ruminating over this that the angel appeared to Him in a dream.
In this man, we see what it means to be a holy man. He wants to be at peace with God and peace with others. His interest was not on how to damage the image of the other person unlike what many would do if we are in His position.
To Belong to God
1.To belong to God in essence means to live for God and nothing more. Joseph would have doubted the angel since it was just a mere dream.
If we are Joseph, many wouldn’t have taken this dream seriously. They will go ahead and fulfil their intentions.
But In him, we see a man who knows that everything in life is not mechanical. Joseph knows certainly that there is also the spiritual aspect of life. He knows that this particular dream is not ordinary. He goes ahead to obey.
2. Our faith in God is tested in the midst of challenges. Despite however the situations looks like, Joseph trusted God mightily.
To truly belong to God is to have deep faith in God and trust whatever He does even when the mission looks impossible. It is total trust in God in the midst of challenges and difficulties, even when we do not understand what God is doing.
3. Once God has said, Joseph is always on the move. To belong to God is to live according to His words. Joseph obeys God because God has spoken.
Joseph was once afraid of what people would say but immediately the angel asked Him to take Mary into His home, Joseph was no longer interested in what people would say.
3. Finally to belong to God is to live in love, peace and unity. Joseph was a peaceful man. He does not want to destroy Mary’s image but to find a way to make things work right. To belong to God is not to live in wickedness, hatred, envy, jealousy, backbiting one another, trying to pull people down, lying against their names just to win approval.
As we draw near Christmas, the best gift we can give to each other is not only the one wrapped in parcels but settling our long age quarrel and misunderstanding. It is time for families who have disintegrated for years to come together as one again.
May God bless you beloved and give us the grace to live like people who belong to Him. Amen
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