Posts Tagged ‘Joseph of Nazareth’


The later 1990’s early 2000’s through the United Church Observer is when I became aware of a Matriarchal Wisdom movement, that sadly has fallen off the radar. Women from some U.C. congregations, local mosque and synagogues in Ontario were meeting on a project to bring the three major Abrahamic faith texts together (Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament and the Qur’an). The idea being to provide the cross-reference texts through all three to show how the faiths are more similar and connected than adversarial.

Part of why I am enjoying being the host family for UCM Alberta’s questing through the Qur’an is the real-life reproduction of this project. The past gets together we had a local mosque’s missionary via skype for roughly half the time being able to answer questions, share in readings and discussions. It was also good as I have written about before as common ground allows good things to grow, and that can change our world better than anything.

This post points to an horribly overlooked point in western religious world, and that is the idea of equality and equity for all God’s children and creation. Our continued readings through Sura 2 highlighted the equality and protection of men and women afforded equally through contrasting divorce laws instead of discussing marriage vows. Yet it also shone a light on the ending of scape goatism, and standing firm in yourself accepting the consequences one’s own actions creates regardless of their socio-economic status.

O ye who believe! Equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you: the free man for the free man, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if one is granted any remission by one’s brother then pursuing the matter for realization of the blood money shall be done with fairness and the murderer shall pay him the blood money in a handsome manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. And whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment.

-Sura 2:179

At first reading, this appears to be a retelling of the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth teaching from Exodus 21:24. This short treatise was a counter-culture teaching that stopped the children of Israel from restraining ancient justice and wiping out whole townships due to a small infraction, the response was now commanded to be measured response. This can appear as an expansion, as it points out that you could not buy your way out of offense, or use a wife, or a slave or a societal lesser to pay for your crime as was a normative practice as well. You were responsible for your actions, no one else.

Yet it was more. For it truly echoes back to the nativity story. Think of it, a movement of one of the holiest prophets/messiahs/spiritual teachers, Brother Jesus, came from a working-poverty class village, where life expectancy was on average forty years old. Chances are carpenter was a political choice of translation, when in fact he was part of the unskilled labouring classes. Joseph arranged and purchased Mary, she had no voice (regardless of what you believe about the conception of Jesus, she was a teen girl who was sold by her family as was the practice of the time) in whom she would wed.

Yet this is what the Christian testament tells us of the voice in the decision to birth Jesus:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged[a] to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly.

20¬†While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, ‚ÄúJoseph, descendant of David, don‚Äôt be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit.¬†21¬†She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,[b]¬†because he will save his people from their sins.‚ÄĚ

22¬†All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet:¬†23¬†‚ÄúThe virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,‚ÄĚ[c]¬†which means ‚ÄúGod is with us.‚ÄĚ

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, 25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

-Matthew 1:18-25 (New Century Version)

Part two was Joseph choosing to be apart of this. He had many options before him, as Matthew’s text was written for the Jewish members of the Jesus movement. Culturally they knew that Joseph could have Mary killed for adultery, or simply cast her and the baby outside the village to work in the sex trade and begging until her and the child died, these were the quietly put away moments. What this contrasting showed, was the Joseph heard the same choice to be made by the angel, and had to make a choice. In this small of a centre he knew the whispers, the scandal, the gossip, the possible loss of income and what the world his son would be entering into in this microcosm, and even the scorn that could come to Mary. Yet he needed to choose. One of 2 that had to choose.

26¬†In¬†the¬†sixth¬†month¬†of Elizabeth‚Äôs pregnancy,¬†the¬†angel¬†Gabriel¬†was¬†sent¬†by¬†God¬†to¬†a¬†town¬†of¬†Galilee¬†called¬†Nazareth,¬†27¬†to¬†a¬†virgin¬†engaged¬†to a¬†man¬†whose¬†name¬†was¬†Joseph, a¬†descendant¬†of¬†David,¬†and¬†the¬†virgin‚Äôsname¬†was¬†Mary.¬†28¬†The¬†angel¬†came¬†to¬†her¬†and¬†said, ‚ÄúGreetings,¬†favored one,¬†the¬†Lord¬†is¬†with¬†you!‚Ä̬†29¬†But¬†she was¬†greatly troubled¬†by¬†his¬†words and¬†began to¬†wonder¬†about the¬†meaning¬†of¬†this¬†greeting.¬†30¬†So¬†the¬†angel said¬†to¬†her, ‚ÄúDo¬†not¬†be¬†afraid,¬†Mary,¬†for¬†you have¬†found¬†favor¬†with¬†God!¬†31¬†Listen:¬†You will¬†become¬†pregnant¬†and¬†give birth¬†to¬†a¬†son,¬†and¬†you will¬†name¬†him¬†Jesus.¬†32¬†He¬†will¬†be¬†great,¬†and¬†will¬†be¬†called¬†the¬†Son¬†of the¬†Most High,¬†and¬†the¬†Lord¬†God¬†will¬†give¬†him¬†the¬†throne¬†of¬†his¬†father¬†David.¬†33¬†He will¬†reign¬†over¬†the¬†house¬†of¬†Jacob¬†forever,¬†and¬†his¬†kingdom¬†will¬†neverend.‚Ä̬†34¬†Mary¬†said¬†to¬†the¬†angel, ‚ÄúHow¬†will¬†this¬†be,¬†since¬†I have¬†not¬†been intimate with¬†a¬†man?‚Ä̬†35¬†The¬†angel¬†replied,¬†‚ÄúThe¬†Holy¬†Spirit¬†will¬†come upon¬†you,¬†and¬†the¬†power¬†of the¬†Most High¬†will¬†overshadow¬†you.¬†There fore¬†the child¬†to be¬†born¬†will be¬†holy;¬†he will be¬†called¬†the¬†Son¬†of¬†God.¬†36¬†‚ÄúAnd¬†look,¬†your¬†relative¬†Elizabeth¬†has¬†also¬†become¬†pregnant¬†with¬†a¬†son¬†in¬†her¬†old age¬†‚Äď although¬†she¬†was¬†called¬†barren, she¬†is¬†now¬†in¬†her sixth¬†month!¬†37¬†For¬†nothing¬†will be¬†impossible¬†with¬†God.‚Ä̬†38¬†So¬†Mary said, ‚ÄúYes,¬†I am a¬†servant¬†of the¬†Lord; let this¬†happen¬†to¬†me¬†according to your¬†word.‚Ä̬†Then¬†the¬†angel¬†departed¬†from¬†her.

 -Gospel of Luke 1:26-38 (bible.org)

Before coming to Joseph, the one with no voice, was spoken to and asked directly. One can say the question was asked of one so young due to naivety, yet be honest in such a small village she knew what the consequences would be. How could one find the strength to say yes to such a weird event for the time?

Simple, Mary got what the old men’s club did not of her era (and sadly many eras since), everyone’s voice matters, and everyone is created in equality, equity and justice. The gifts of peace, faith, joy and hope reign in our beings, but the cosmic dust at our core is shaped in L-)’V-E. That is right, Mary had the same choice as Joseph tradition tells us, unencumbered by society, simply one question asked, yes or no. She mattered.

How did she know?

Simple beginnings in the Hebrew Bible:

27 God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them 

Genesis 1:27-28 (bible.org)

A simple ancient poem of the creation of everything. An ancient poem stating the why to the people. Humanity was created in the Creator’s image. Both genders (and all sexualities, all races, all cultures, all religions, etc)…one river many wells to drink from.

Each person in autonomous, but their decisions have consequences, good, neutral or bad within their communities. Like the pebble hitting the pond and the ripples going outwards. The first step is understanding though that we are autonomous in an interdependent community. This is why it matters to discover what and how our neighbours believe. So we can see where the common ground is for moving forward, and creating a world that was dreamed of in that first moment when -BANG- it all appeared.