My three favorite saints in the Bible are St. Dismas (the Good Thief), St. James, and St. Joseph. I'll speak of James and Dismas in due time, but this morning, let's consider the story of that guy in the (mostly forgotten) corner of the church, with a saw in one hand, and toddler Jesus under his other arm. The man had an iron devotion to his wife, and a species of courage I don't think most of us understand anymore.

We who are not Jewish and don't read the Torah are generally unaware that in Joseph's time (and he was an observant Jew, after all) if your fiancee got herself pregnant by some other guy, you were not only permitted but obliged to turn her over to the local authories to be stoned to death. (See Deuteronomy 22:13-21.) Joseph knew this, but he would have none of it; he genuinely loved Mary and although he considered a quiet divorce, he changed his mind (with some help from an angel who came to him in a dream) and not only married her, but raised her child of mysterious fathering as though He were his own. This is so damned contrarian that I have to grin: My kind of guy! Had he interpreted his Scripture literally, Mary and the unborn Jesus would have been toast.

Is there a lesson here? Obviously: The law was made for Man. Man was not made for the law. (This does not mean, as some have implied, that there is no law.) When the law goes awry, love and guts were made to bring it back where it belongs. The story of Joseph is not the story of a Divine Plan being imposed from above, but of a good man following his heart in the direction where he knew his God was leading.  [Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary

My three favorite saints in the Bible are St. Dismas (the Good Thief), St. James, and St. Joseph. I'll speak of James and Dismas in due time, but this morning, let's consider the story of that guy in the (mostly forgotten) corner of the church, with a saw in one hand, and toddler Jesus under his other arm. The man had an iron devotion to his wife, and a species of courage I don't think most of us understand anymore.

We who are not Jewish and don't read the Torah are generally unaware that in Joseph's time (and he was an observant Jew, after all) if your fiancee got herself pregnant by some other guy, you were not only permitted but obliged to turn her over to the local authories to be stoned to death. (See Deuteronomy 22:13-21.) Joseph knew this, but he would have none of it; he genuinely loved Mary and although he considered a quiet divorce, he changed his mind (with some help from an angel who came to him in a dream) and not only married her, but raised her child of mysterious fathering as though He were his own. This is so damned contrarian that I have to grin: My kind of guy! Had he interpreted his Scripture literally, Mary and the unborn Jesus would have been toast.

Is there a lesson here? Obviously: The law was made for Man. Man was not made for the law. (This does not mean, as some have implied, that there is no law.) When the law goes awry, love and guts were made to bring it back where it belongs. The story of Joseph is not the story of a Divine Plan being imposed from above, but of a good man following his heart in the direction where he knew his God was leading.  [Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary]

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