In today’s readings we see a very striking contrast between two Judean men: King Ahaz and Joseph.
King Ahaz is facing a crisis, as two countries (Syria and Ephraim or northern Israel) unite their forces to try to “persuade” him to join them in fighting Assyria. The prophet Isaiah, speaking for God, tells Ahaz to trust in God alone, and not enter into foreign alliances. Ahaz is given a remarkable opportunity -- a chance to “pick his own sign” to see proof of God’s fidelity to his word. But Ahaz declines, and instead turns to the pagan nation Assyria for help. This leads to Judea becoming a servile nation under Assyria. Destruction followed.
Joseph also is faced with a crisis in today’s Gospel (Mt 1:18-24). His promised bride is pregnant, and he knows the baby is not his. Like Ahaz, Joseph also receives a word from God, in a dream. He is told to trust in God alone, because the Holy Spirit was the vehicle for the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Unlike Ahaz, Joseph does not hesitate, and immediately upon awakening “did as the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife into his home and Salvation followed.
Ahaz was not acting humbly when he refused a sign from God. More than likely he had already entered into an alliance with Assyria, and was too proud to change his mind and admit a mistake – a condition that afflicts many politicians today! Joseph, on the other hand, had previously made up his mind to divorce Mary. However, he humbled himself to accept God’s word, changed his mind, and acted in accordance with God’s will.
We can Learn a lesson in trust from this. God is truth, and his words cannot deceive. He is the “God of the Amen” – a word which expresses His faithfulness to us and our trust in Him. We can pray to St. Joseph for his intercession for the gifts of humility and trust, and follow his example of immediate response to God’s word.