In Luke’s gospel, the archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary with the annunciation that she is to be the mother of God’s Son. In Matthew’s gospel, it is
In his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos (‘Guardian of the Redeemer’) on the life of
In his reflection, Pope John Paul reflected that Joseph “did not know how to deal with Mary’s astonishing motherhood. He certainly sought an answer to this unsettling question, but above all he sought a way out of what was for him a difficult situation” (ibid., n. 3). He was resolved to carry out this plan, but was visited by the angel in a dream who reassured him of the divine origins of Mary’s unborn child.
Indeed, it somehow diminishes
Scriptures tell us that ‘Joseph … took his wife; but he knew her not’ (Mt 1:24-25). According to John Paul, “these words indicate another kind of closeness in marriage. The deep spiritual closeness arising from marital union and interpersonal contact between man and woman have their definitive origin in the Spirit, the Giver of Life. Joseph, in obedience to the Spirit, found in the Spirit the source of love, the conjugal love which he experienced as a man. And this love proved to be greater that this ‘just man’ could ever have experienced within the limits of his human heart” (ibid., n. 19). His need for human love and intimacy was not nullified, but was supplied by God’s Spirit working in his life.
It is the same for those of us who profess a vow of celibate chastity. We do not profess chastity because sex is bad. Rather, a life of consecrated chastity acts as “a witness to the power of God’s love manifested in the weakness of the human condition” (Vita Consecrata, n. 88). Like
John Paul adds that “this testimony is more necessary than ever today, precisely because it is so little understood by our world. It is offered to everyone – young people, engaged couples, husbands and wives and Christian families – in order to show that the power of God’s love can accomplish great things precisely within the context of human love. It is a witness which also meets a growing need for interior honesty in human relationships” (ibid.).
St Joseph, pray for us!