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Theotokos: Monday of the 3rd Week of Advent
“decided to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19)
Joseph’s response to Mary’s news leads to his decision “to divorce her quietly.” Why? Perhaps Joseph’s discomfort was not because he did not understand that Mary’s conception was “through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:35), but rather because he did understand.
The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was the sacred vessel that God prepared for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:10-22). The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant was so sacred that Uzzah died immediately after touching the ark while he himself was unclean (2nd Samuel 6:1-7). Astonished, King David exclaimed, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2nd Samuel 6:9). As a “righteous” man (Matthew 1:19), Joseph would have been steeped in the truths of the Old Testament, and therefore, Joseph would have been very familiar Uzzah’s death. Mary is the New Ark of the New Covenant, and Joseph knew it. Joseph decided to divorce her, and to do so quietly, perhaps because felt unworthy of such a blessing in his life. As Joseph compared himself to Mary, or the child in her womb, he felt unworthy.
At different stages in our lives, many of us feel unworthy. On the heels of sin, we feel unworthy. When we taste our inability to be consistent, we feel unworthy. When we do “the things we don’t want to do” (Romans 7:15), we feel unworthy. Thus, when we feel unworthy, we tend to shy away from God, distancing ourselves with classic patterns—we stop praying, we focus on ourselves, we try to “clean our spiritual life up” in order to be worthy.
When do you feel unworthy? How do you handle feeling unworthy? While today’s meditation might be difficult, trust the process. Spend some time in prayer and ask God to reveal your patterns of unworthiness.
For your prayer
Joseph would have often prayed with Psalm 139. Prep your imaginative prayer by slowly reading Psalm 139:1-16. Use your spiritual senses and imaginatively pray with Joseph in Matthew 1:18.
“Father, I ask for the grace today to taste your love for me. Help me understand my patterns and how I feel about feeling unworthy.”
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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2015