24 December 2017


Written by Gladstone Worthington, TLM International Office.

In the Gospels Matthew and John, we read of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, into this world. When it was announced to Mary that she would conceive the Holy Child, she asked, “How could this be?” This was an event unheard of at the biblical time of Mary and Joseph. There had been no known miracles for the past few centuries, but they had heard about many miracles that had happened during the time of their ancestors. But Mary believed what the Angel told her and decided to carry the baby through the pregnancy. 

When Joseph came to understand that Mary was pregnant (even before they were married), he wanted to save his reputation and that of his family. He decided to break off the engagement quietly. But when he was told in a dream that Mary was carrying the Holy Child, he would have asked, “How could this be?” Joseph too believed the angel that appeared to him and decided to take Mary as his wife.

The act of belief has three parts and each complements the others. The first: to believe means to take risks. Mary took a risk in her life and said “yes, Lord”. Joseph believed what he heard in the dream and acted upon it and married Mary. For Mary and Joseph, they took a risk against their families, their neighbours, and their community and against the common belief. This is the leap of faith that believing in God means – for Him, everything is possible. 

The second: to believe means willingness to change your mindset. For Mary and Joseph, both were committed to each other and to support each other through the process of the birth of this Holy Child. Their focus was single-minded on the mission that they embarked on. 

The third: to believe means willingness to make radical changes. For Mary and Joseph, their decisions had a radical impact in their lives. There was no going back on their beliefs. Today, we are told to believe in many things, in doing certain things and not doing certain things. Often, after some time, we change our minds and go back to our old ways of doing or not doing. This was not an option for Mary and Joseph. Both made their stand in public. 

What about me? Us? Can my (our) belief be swayed by circumstances or the intention to please others? Or is it something I put on when it suits me, makes me popular, important, etc. Of course, this is a journey, and we need the support of Christ to fulfil our belief. 

Thank you, God, for Mary and Joseph – through their belief, our Saviour was born into this world. 

Gladstone Worthington is Head of Finance at The Leprosy Mission International Office.

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash.