Vatican City, 23 December 2013 (VIS) – At midday the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, and reflected on the Gospel reading of this fourth Sunday of Advent, which relates the events preceding the birth of Jesus from the point of view of St. Joseph.
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth but they did not live together, as they had not yet celebrated marriage. However Mary, after receiving the annunciation from the Angel, was with child through the work of the Holy Spirit, and when Joseph discovered this, he was perplexed.
“The Gospel does not explain his thoughts, but it tells us the basics: he seeks to do God's will and is ready to make a radical renunciation. Instead of defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chooses a solution that represents, for him, a great sacrifice. And the Gospel tells us that Joseph, 'being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly'. This short sentence encapsulates a real inner drama, if we consider Joseph's love for Mary. But, as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervenes: 'Joseph, son of David', he said, 'don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'.”
The text, continued the Pope, “shows us the greatness of St. Joseph's soul. He was leading a good life and had plans, but God had other plans for him, a greater mission. Joseph was a man who always listened to God's voice … attentive to the messages that came from the heart and from on high. He did not insist on pursuing his life's plans, or to allow resentment to poison his soul, but rather was willing to place himself at the service of the novelty presented to him in this troubling way. He did not hate, and he did not allow resentment to poison his soul”.
“But how often do hate, antipathy and resentment contaminate our souls! Never allow this to happen!” exclaimed the Holy Father. “Joseph is an example of this. And in this way, he became even freer and greater. Accepting himself in accordance with the Lord's plan, Joseph finds himself fully, and goes beyond himself. This freedom of his, to give up all that he has and to renounce his own existence, and his full inner openness to the will of God, challenges us and shows us the way”.
“We therefore celebrate Christmas contemplating Mary and Joseph: Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself totally to God's word; Joseph, the faithful and just man who preferred to believe in the Lord instead of listening to the voices of doubt and human pride. With them, we walk together towards Bethlehem”.