Today’s reflection on the portrayal of Joseph in Matthew’s gospel got me thinking about families. We tend to focus on the readiness of God to enter into the mess of human relationships in the incarnation. But Joseph too was ready to take the risk of putting himself in a family situation which was far from straightforward (as, of course, was Mary). And for Joseph family, in the person of Jesus, extended beyond blood ties.
I have heard family defined as “the people God gives us to look after”. That resonates with me, and I think it would with Joseph too. Jesus is not his biological child, but he is the one God has given him to look after. The situation is messy, but it is the one God has placed him in. My own family, biological and otherwise, is messy. I suspect everyone’s is in its own way. But family, however we choose to define it, is part of what it is to be human, and part of what God chose to enter into in the incarnation. Learning to live as members of a family is part of how we learn to live in relationship with each other and with God. Being family, even understanding what that means, isn’t easy, as Joseph found out. But, as it was for Joseph, it might just be part of what God is calling us to.