Today’s reading tells the story of Gabriel’s second visit to Joseph. In lieu of a traditional sermon, I wrote a dialogue of a conversation I imagine Mary and Joseph had the night Gabriel visited Joseph. I have asked our young engaged couple to give voice to Mary and Joseph.
MARY: Joseph, you are such a good father. You have truly been a father to Jesus just as if he were your own son.
JOSEPH: We talked about this, Mary. The angel came to me in my dream and told me to take you as my wife. Being your husband means caring for you and Jesus.
MARY: Yes, I know. Gabriel came to you, too. God knew that Jesus would need an earthly father and you’re fulfilling that role. Still, you love him just as if he were your own.
JOSEPH: I will do the best I can, Mary. With the help of God, we can be the parents Jesus will need to fulfill his calling.
MARY: I still can’t believe God picked us to raise His son. Raising this child is an honor, but it requires so much of us. We must not waver in our faith so that we can raise him to be a faithful Jew.
JOSEPH: I can’t believe God chose us either. There is nothing special about us. We are not more righteous or more faithful than others. We’re not rich – we don’t know if we’ll be able to give him a good life. But, we’ll love him.
MARY: I was so scared when the angel Gabriel told me I would become pregnant by the Spirit of God. I was so afraid. I was afraid of such an awesome calling. I was afraid you would divorce me.
You know I went to stay with my cousin Elizabeth for some time because I didn’t know how I would tell you that I was pregnant with a child that was not yours, not any man’s, but the son of God.
JOSEPH: I thought about divorcing you. I had decided to do that until Gabriel came to visit me. I can’t say I handled you telling me that you were pregnant well. I had to assume you had been unfaithful.
MARY: I know. It was the only logical explanation.
When I was with Elizabeth, I sang God’s praise for this child growing within me. It comforted me when I sang to God. I sang you the song. Do you remember it?
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is God’s name.
The Lord’s mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
God has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
The Lord has scattered those who are proud in their inmost
Ruler have been brought down from their thrones
but the humble have been lifted up.
The Lord has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
God has helped servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
JOSEPH: God is good all the time.
MARY: Oh! God is good. He sent the angel to visit you. You didn’t divorce me. You did just what the angel asked of you. Things are going to be okay, Joseph. It’s like Gabriel said, “nothing is impossible for God.”
JOSEPH: Nothing is impossible with God.
MARY: Remember that long journey to Bethlehem. You walked all the way while I rode on the donkey.
JOSEPH: Then, there was no room at the inn so we had to stay in the barn.
MARY: Ha! Ha! I still can’t believe I had the baby in the barn. The animals, the angels, the shepherds. It was all so much, too much.
JOSEPH: That’s a day for the history books.
MARY: Then, when the Romans came to collect the taxes, you paid the taxes for Jesus. We couldn’t have told the soldiers that Jesus’ father was God. They would have killed him and us right then. You paid the taxes to Rome just as if Jesus was your son.
JOSEPH: I had to protect Jesus. I will raise him as my own. He will be my son in every aspect. No one has to know.
MARY: You are such a good husband to me and a good father to Jesus.
Can you believe those men who know all those things about astronomy and science came all the way from Arabia to bring Jesus gifts! What odd gifts too! Gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are all so expensive. They’re gifts fit for a king, not lowly peasants like us and our son.
JOSEPH: Frankincense? I mean that’s incense used by priests when they make offerings in the temple. What is Jesus going to do with that? That’s a gift for someone like my cousin Zechariah the priest. I don’t know maybe Jesus will be a priest.
MARY: And myrrh? Myrrh is used for so many different things, like medicine, perfume or to prepare a body for burial. Maybe he’ll be a doctor. Or you know Esther used myrrh in her beauty treatments before going to the king…maybe Jesus will give the perfume to his wife. Surely, the men didn’t bring the myrrh with the mind that it would be used prepare someone for burial?
JOSEPH: I know they’re expensive gifts, but what it Jesus going to do with these gifts? They are gifts fit for a king.
MARY: Could we really be raising a king? I wonder if he will be like King Saul. Saul was a great warrior. Maybe he’ll be like King Solomon. King Solomon was very wise and he built the temple in Jerusalem. Hopefully, he’ll be like King David. God established the kingdom of Israel under King David. He was a great warrior. We need a king like King David to defeat the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel.
JOSEPH: You know those men were in Jerusalem before coming to us. They told King Herod that they were searching for the one who was born to be the king of our people. I’m sure King Herod is waiting for them to tell him where we are. If he thinks Jesus is going to be the next king of our people, Herod is going to want to kill us before Jesus poses a real threat to his kingdom.
MARY: I’m scared, Joseph. I trust that God will protect Jesus. Still, I don’t know if we’re safe here.
JOSEPH: I know God will protect us. Good night.
Mary and Joseph go to sleep.
JOSEPH: Mary, Mary, wake up!
MARY: What, Joseph? What is it?
JOSEPH: Gabriel came to me in a dream again.
MARY: The angel came to you?
JOSEPH: Yes, I am supposed to take you and Jesus and get out of here.
MARY: We are supposed to leave? Where are we going to go?
MARY: Egypt! That’s where our people were enslaved for so long. That’s the land God brought us out of!
JOSEPH: That’s where Gabriel told us to go. But, I’m worried, Mary. Gabriel told both of us not to be afraid before. This time, Gabriel didn’t say not to be afraid. We better leave.
MARY: Egypt? Can we worship God there and follow the Law there? We need to raise Jesus someplace where we can be faithful Jews and raise Jesus to be one too.
JOSEPH: Mary, I’m just telling you what Gabriel told. He said to go to Egypt, so we’re going to Egypt.
MARY: Okay, let’s go!
JOSEPH: Hurry! We must go now! Herod is going to figure out soon who we are and where we are. It’s no longer safe for us here.
MARY: We’ll have to use the gold that the 3 wise men gave Jesus for our traveling expenses. Turns out those gifts may come in handy.
Joseph, you’re a good husband to me and a good father to Jesus.
JOSEPH: Mary, I love you, but let’s go!