Κυριακή, 24 Μάρτιος 2024 18:17

St John Chrysostom answers questions about the Birth of Christ (Nativity) Κύριο

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Selected excerpts from the Saint’s sermons on passages from the Gospel according to St Matthew


♦ How is it evident that He is a Descendant of David?

 Euaggelismos  In the Gospel according to St Luke (1:27) we read the command God gives to Gabriel to go “to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David”. What is then clearer than this, when we hear that the Virgin descends from the line and family of David? Both Joseph and Virgin Mary came from the royal line of King David. It was the custom of the Jews to include only men in their genealogies, so from the genealogy in the Gospel according to St Matthew (1:16) we are assured that Joseph descends from the royal family of David. In the Old Testament it was not only forbidden to take a wife from another tribe, but also from another family. Therefore, whether we attribute the phrase “a descendant of David” to the Virgin or Joseph, their common origin is certain.
   This righteous and virtuous man, distinguished for his great compassion, he who did not pursue the Virgin’s punishment, could not have possibly transgressed the Law about marriage. He who showed a level of spirituality higher than what the Law required, as revealed by his plan to divorce the Virgin secretly, could not have possibly broken the Law in choosing his wife, when indeed he was not compelled by any reason to do so.


♦ Why is Joseph included in the genealogical tree of Jesus Christ since he did not really have Virgin Mary as his wife?

   The phrase “Joseph, the husband of Mary (Mt. 1:16) in the genealogy of Joseph, after naming all his ancestors, indicates that the Evangelist included him in the genealogy because of Mary. But lest you should think that the birth of Jesus Christ occurred following the natural law, when hearing the phrase “husband of Mary”, he presents the miraculous and supernatural way of the virginal conception of Jesus as follows: “After His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:18).
   The Jews should not have known at the time of the Nativity that Christ was born of a Virgin so that the Virgin could be saved and be free of any immoral suspicion. Because, if this had been known to the Jews from the very beginning, they would have condemned the Virgin for adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. Since Joseph himself, who was both a pious and admirable man, needed many proofs to believe what happened, namely the appearance of an angel and the revelation in his dream along with the testimonies of the prophets, how would it be possible for the Jews, being stiff-necked, wicked and fanatical enemies of Him, to accept this unbelievable event? They would be scandalized by this paradoxical and incredible event similar of which had not been witnessed in the past.  “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly.” says Matthew (1:19)
   Do you see how merciful this man was? Not only did he not punish her but also, he did not denounce to anybody nor did he even say anything to the Virgin whom he considered a suspect. Instead, he was thinking to himself while trying to hide the accusation even from the Virgin herself. To that end the Evangelist did not say “sent her away from his house” but “dismiss her”. He planned to divorce her. He was such a merciful, polite and decent man, righteous in all things, that he did not want to cause any discomfort to the Virgin, not even the slightest one.  Since however, he believed that it was unethical to have her in his house, while at the same time her public shaming would have resulted in a death penalty, he showed superior behavior. He “decided to divorce her secretly”.


♦ Why did the Virgin keep it quiet, when she was informed by the angel and why did she not disclose it to her suitor when she saw him confused?

   That is because she thought that she would not be believed by her suitor, if she announced such oddity. On the contrary, she would be likely to enrage him more as he might have thought that she was trying to cover up her committed sin. Since even she who was about to take on such a divine mission, becomes agitated and asks “How is this to me, when I do not know a man?” much more would Joseph have expressed doubts given that he would have been informed by the Virgin herself. While the situation was like this and everything had reached deadlock, the angel appeared providing solution to all of the problems. “While he (Joseph) contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” (Mt 1:20).


♦ Why didn't the angel speak to Joseph before he was troubled?

   So that he does not become mistrustful and suffer the same as Zacharias did.  For he would have easily believed after pregnancy could be seen.  But this news would not be equally accepted before it had even begun. It is for this reason he is notified by the angel, after his soul had been possessed by this very suspicion which is meant to become the proof of the truth of what would be said. Hearing the angel revealing his secret thoughts and feelings which he had not shared with anyone else, was for him the undisputed proof that the angel speaking to him had been sent by God because only God has the power to know the secrets of the soul. The angel came to Joseph and said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 1:20)
   He immediately evokes Joseph’s ancestors, by addressing him as son of David, whose line Christ was to come from, and does not let him feel anxiety, since he reminds him of the promise, which had been given to mankind. By saying “do not be afraid” he indicates that Joseph was seized with fear of displeasing God if he lived together with an adulteress.  For no other reason would he have planned to send her away from his home. After the name of the Virgin had been mentioned, the angel did not stop and added “your wife”. It is certain that he wouldn't have called her this way if she had been corrupt and immoral. His fiancée is here called his wife. In the Bible the suitors are called “husbands” even before their marriage.


♦ But what is meant by “to take Mary your wife”?

   To keep her in his house, because Joseph had already pushed her away with his thought. The woman you have removed from your life, is handed over to you to keep at home, not by her parents but by God. However, He gives her to you, through my own voice, not as a wife, but to simply dwell with her. Just as later Christ hands over His Mother to His disciple so now the angel entrusts her to the protection of Joseph.
   Thus, he neither criticized her nor considered her immoral but he recognized her as his fiancée and also ministered to her after childbirth. If the man who more than anybody would be interested in her spousal loyalty had not been convinced that the newborn child came through the energy of the Holy Spirit, he would not have held her in his house and would not have served her in all things.
   The evangelist Matthew has previously mentioned with emphasis the phrase “she was found with child”. The phrase “was found” or “happened” is usually said about paradoxical and entirely unexpected, rather impossible events. Mary was found with a baby in her womb in a supernatural way. The angel tells Joseph: “the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). “Therefore, you must not only banish your fear altogether, but also rejoice exceedingly.”  These sayings are paradoxical, are beyond human logic and are above and beyond the natural laws.


♦ But how could Joseph believe all these words never heard before?

   Certainly, from what had already been revealed by the angel. It is for this reason that the angel reveals to Joseph all things he had contemplated, suffered, feared as well as everything he had thought of doing in order to be sure of this for the present matter. And he is not only convinced by the past events, but also by the ones to come.  “She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Mt 1:21). Do not however think that, because His birth is caused by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will not commit yourself to offer the newborn child your services as the head of family. Even though you had no genetic role to the birth of the child and the Virgin remained intact, I entrust you with the task of the father, which does not violate the character of the Virgin Mary, to give the name to the child.  So, you will name the child. Even if the child is not yours, you will act as a true father for Him assuming the duties that belong to a father. Therefore, I entrust you to give the name to Him in order to immediately relate you to the newborn.
  Now listen how precisely the evangelist settles all the rest so that no one might suspect that Joseph is the biological father. Matthew says “She will give birth to a son”. He does not say, “She will bear you a son,” but simply “She will give birth” leaving the phrase unspecified, for she would not bear a child for Joseph, but for the whole world. For this reason, the angel came from heaven, sent by God, to bring the name of the newborn to Joseph, as a proof that the pregnancy of Virgin Mary was due to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

Διαβάστηκε 621 φορές Τελευταία τροποποίηση στις Δευτέρα, 25 Μάρτιος 2024 18:25
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