Remember that the story of Jesus' birth was crafted after the resurrection. It follows the classic acorn-oak pattern. The bigger picture is hidden in the embryo. Nonetheless, the basic theme is stated with alarming clarity. The work of the Holy Spirit emerges in human life as a scandal. During His adult life, Jesus will challenge
the prevailing understanding of the law, eat with the outcast and make claims that sound like blasphemy. But for St. Matthew it is clearer still that what looks like a scandal on the surface, is really the work of God at a deeper level. Even as an embryo Jesus caused scandal. What can we expect when he grows up!
Joseph is permitted to hold a public inquiry to determine how his betrothed got pregnant. He does not exercise this right - and neither should we - but decides to apply the law sensitively. However, his plan for a quiet divorce is scuppered by an angel. While Herod has to consult priest and sacred text to find out what God is doing, all Joseph has to do is fall asleep. In his dream he is told that what tradition labels scandal, he must call Spirit. Something big is afoot and Joseph has a part to play. But before he can decide to bless, shelter and protect his betrothed and her baby, he must labour to bring love into the world of law and extend forgiveness to what looked like sin. This is why it is Joseph who must name this child, for the name of his son clarifies his own deeper instincts and affirms the path he must take.
The fact that Jesus is named twice in the narrative, means that for St. Matthew, Josephs' way must be ours. The Saviour is for all people and He is for all time. If Joseph, the wise one, can dream and imagine all of this, what might we do?
Here is a beautiful example of what I mean. It is a tale, imagining Joseph talking to his son as he teaches him the skill of the carpenter, or how to fit the pieces together. Joseph speaks......
Remember Jesus, whatever we are making, along with it we are also making a home for the spirit. The best way is to clear the space and the best way to clear a space is to stop the mind from judging. Whenever things seem simple and obvious and the mind is feasting on certainty, slow down. There is always more than you think. It just hasn't appeared yet. Judging stops the appearance of more. It cuts people to the little that you know and closes possibilities.
Also, when you do not judge you avoid disgracing others. The Law is our measure. It is a tool of judgement but someone always wields it. Do not use it as a hammer to hit, or a saw to cut. Our tools are to fashion a table, not brutalise the wood. The law is a tool to fashion a people for love but in the wrong hands, it can break people and lose its sense of purpose. So, find a way to honour the law and to honour the person who, in our limited understanding, has broken the law. This is not easy.
It requires making law work for love. This gives life a chance to breathe and people to change. And the biggest change will not be in other people but in you. It's like this beam of wood. Love takes the beam out of our own eyes. It does not focus on splinters in the eyes of others.
Once, something happened and I was tempted to judge and reject. But I held back and waited. And another door opened - the door that is hard to find. I was led into a room of sunlight, a home for Spirit. Your mother and you were there - and a presence of light which dissolved all of my fear. It was as if all distance had been crossed, all separation reconnected. It was a dream but I wasn't asleep. The dream awakened me. The beam fell from my eye. I saw a home for the spirit as an endless adventure, like you growing up, my son.
So, see everything at least twice Jesus. See it intensely with the eye of your heart. At first glance, you might see an unusable piece of wood. Looking deeper you may see something beautiful hidden in its shape. When you see this beauty, embrace it. Take it into your home. Don't hesitate. Don't ask questions. Argue about everything but listen always to the voice of love.
The boy listened.........