4 Advent Year A

Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

“Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.” – Turkish Proverb

                Joseph doesn’t say much; but he ponders (see Greek comment below).  Should he do the conventionally righteous thing which would be to dismiss Mary quietly?  He ponders.  To ponder is to have an open mind.  There is nothing to think about when our minds are already made up and set in stone.  Joseph then dreams and comes to realize that he can’t dismiss Mary and be true to himself and to God.  To be truly right with God (righteous) he must be unconventional.  How do you dismiss the future patron saint of unwed mothers?  In our account in Matthew, Joseph never speaks.  But his one word is his action, his unconventional righteous taking of Mary to be his wife.  The process seems to be: ponder, dream, act.  Maybe we don’t have clarity of action because of our verbosity, because we are not quiet and can’t dream.  Maybe we don’t dream because we don’t ponder.

 

Greek

                The NRSV in Matthew 1:20 says Joseph “had resolved to do this,” that is, dismiss Mary quietly.  Other translations (NJB, NAB both Catholic translations) besides the NRSV also wrongly imply that Joseph had already made up his mind.  However, the original Greek says “he was pondering these things.”  Pondering is prelude to decision, implying he had not yet made up his mind, had not yet “resolved to do this.”  The King James Bible correctly translates the line as “While he thought on these things.”

 

Haiku

Worry set aside

in bright dreams of night angels

unconventional.

 

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