Life lessons from Joseph key to Christmas message
In Dr. Seuss’s famous story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch marvels that Christmas “… came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!” One thing it could not have come without, however, is a baby — the baby Jesus.
In today’s Christmas celebrations, the baby is largely overlooked, if not forgotten altogether. Yet Christmas is the perfect time to reflect on our attitudes toward babies — especially unborn babies — and their families. As preposterous as it may sound, the support we provide an unborn child’s parents can make a real difference in whether that child lives, or is aborted.
While I am in no way trying to imply that Jesus was in danger of being aborted, I do think it is interesting to reflect on how Mary’s pregnancy would be viewed through modern eyes. Think about it: There were numerous obstacles to Jesus’ birth. His mother was an unwed teenager in a time before teen moms had their own reality show. Hotels.com listed no room at the inn. And I’m pretty sure the Holy Family didn’t have “Herodcare” medical coverage. In a society like ours where abortion is an option, many may have suggested that Mary “take the easy way out.” But Mary was resolute in her trust in the Lord, and she gave a resounding “Yes” to God’s plan for her life and the life of her child. She was selfless and courageous … and she wasn’t the only one.
Mary had a hero in the man who became her husband — Joseph — who spent his life in service to Mary and Jesus. For us, Joseph offers inspiration for ways to support families in unplanned pregnancies. First, Joseph looked beyond the immediate circumstances and the immediate future. He realized that a quick fix was not the best solution, so he stood by his betrothed in spite of societal pressure to reject her (or even have her stoned)! Joseph was courageous in defending and protecting his woman. His attention on Mary allowed Mary, in turn, to see beyond her own situation and focus on the needs of her child.
In addition, Joseph was a man of action who didn’t waste time judging or condemning. Instead, he set to work to wed Mary and provide for her and her child. He stayed with Mary and Jesus not just until Jesus was born, but for a lifetime, caring for the boy as if he were his own biological child, bringing him up in the faith, and teaching him the family trade.
Joseph’s actions stand in stark contrast to our culture’s not-so-subtle messages to women in difficult pregnancies. Society whispers loudly, “No” and “You can’t” and “You’re too weak (or poor, or young, or old)” and “You’re alone.” Then it convinces these women that they won’t be good mothers or that the timing just isn’t right. How could they possibly be mothers and stay in school? How could they possibly be mothers and pursue their other dreams? It’s just too hard!
Joseph sent a more encouraging message. The language he spoke was support. His actions stated: “Yes” and “You can” and “You are strong” and “I am here.” Then Joseph proceeded to take the crisis — not the baby — out of the crisis pregnancy. These are the things that empower women to choose life despite their circumstances. These are the things that say, “It won’t be easy, but you’re not alone.”
Who do you know this Christmas that needs a little support, Joseph-style?
There are several opportunities to become involved in peaceful outreach to pregnant women in the Charleston area — make it your New Year’s resolution to participate. Forty Days for Life begins Feb. 10th and runs through March 20th. Can you spare a few hours a week for six weeks to pray outside the abortion clinic in West Ashley? This is a peaceful vigil to protect the unborn and raise community awareness. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 40daysforlife.com. Sidewalk Advocates for Life is a training program designed to encourage and empower women to choose life. The next class is scheduled for January 29th and 30th in Goose Creek. For more information, email SAFLCharleston@gmail.com or visit the national website at sidewalkadvocates.org.
Anne Hobday is a member of St. Benedict’s Church in Mount Pleasant. She has a background in education and training, a cross-eyed cat and a passion for the pro-life cause. A few of her favorite things are books, hydrangeas, pelicans, sunshine, tango dancing, Charleston summers and peanut-butter fudge milkshakes.