By: Chibuzor F. Ogamba
While reading St. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth (cf. Matthew 1:18-25), two verses from that passage struck me which opened up a new path for me towards an understanding of this passage. First, I felt that the climax of the story in that passage is in verse 23 when Matthew quotes from the Old Testament, ‘the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, which means: God-with-us.’ I believe that quotation was a stamp, a seal, and a confirmation of who exactly Matthew is telling us about, his identity is ‘God-with-us’, for in the incarnation God came to be with us. That is what we celebrate at Christmas; that God came among us, dwelt among us, was like us, and was with us. It is also interesting to note that at the very beginning of his account Matthew already gives us a picture of the end or goal of Jesus’ coming to us which actually does not cease with Christmas but continues after the Resurrection, for at the very end of his gospel message, in his very last sentence he tells us that Jesus, God-with-us said, ‘I AM WITH YOU always even till the end of this world’, (Matthew 28:20) I also noticed that Matthew begins in this way, ‘This is HOW Jesus Christ was born…’ (Matthew 1:18). Not ‘where’, not ‘when’, in fact, he doesn’t tell us where (in Bethlehem, in Judea), nor does he tell us when (during the days of King Herod) till chapter 2:1, what he concerns himself with in the first seven verses is HOW.
Thus, it seems to me that Matthew is not only telling us a literal story of how Christ came into the world, but, on a spiritual level, how he comes into our hearts and our lives. It would take us a great attention to detail in order to, sought of, pick out the clues the Holy Apostle drops for us as he narrates the Story, and this what I will try to do. I would also try to pay special attention to the person of Joseph because he takes the center stage in this story. So how is Christ born in our lives?