Jesus plopped a little duo of parabolic gems about patches and wineskins as response. This is one of those passages in the gospel of Matthew that have most of us scratching our heads and wondering, “What exactly did Jesus mean by that?”
I think, and this is pure supposition, I admit, that when Jesus said these words, he may have given a little wink to Matthew, his host and new disciple. Because Matthew understood exactly what Jesus meant by this:
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wine wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17)
Run to find Jesus! You are sure to find this amazing savior who promised to give you life in exchange for death, eternal mercy and joy instead of dark isolation, and a restored position as a child of the Most High God! Because God is a fulfiller of promises.
Those who turn to Jesus Christ, and accept his promise, begin to open our mouths with a new song, a song that tells of the pit, of the muck and mire of our making, and then sings the tune El gives. The song, the life, the story then belongs to him and we are the happy beneficiaries of his promise, heirs to the kingdom of heaven, children of God.
I believe Joseph knew waiting required obedience–active participation in the will and ways of God. And we are all the grandly grateful recipients because Joseph listened and obeyed and believed he would indeed “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. That gift, that goodness lay in the rosy lips and rounded cheeks and bright, innocent eyes of the baby he would hold and give the name Jesus. It was because of Joseph’s commitment and parenting that Jesus learned the word, Abba, Daddy.
Joseph obeyed. Joseph stayed. Joseph: the unsung hero of our Christmas story. Just an average Joe. Extraordinary.
It’s important to remember that Mary is continuing to obey God, to live according to her declaration that she is God’s cooperative servant, in the midst of tremendous inner turmoil. She is walking along a path lit only step-by-step. She cannot see the tunnel, let alone the light at the end of it; she is walking obediently through the chaos of each moment, the what-if’s of right now.