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Joseph of Nazareth

Joseph is the figure in the bottom left of the icon of the nativity. Sometimes he is in the bottom right. But he is separated apart from, out of the main scene of Mary and baby and ox and ass. He is being tempted by the old man surrounded by his dogs (symbolising the devil) and he is lost in doubt. He is the first person, and certainly not the last, to doubt the virgin birth.

But Joseph is shown with a halo. He is a righteous man. When he thinks that Mary has had an affair, he wants to do what is right but not expose her to shame (Matthew 1:19). And he is open to hear the word of God and obey it (Matthew 1:24). He is called by God to protect the child and his mother - and like another Joseph who lived almost 4000 years earlier - he is the one who is called to take the Son of God, the new Israel, out to Egypt and from Egypt back to Nazareth. 

And then, having done what God has called him to do, he disappears. 



God our Father,
who from the family of your servant David
raised up Joseph the carpenter
to be the guardian of your incarnate Son
and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
give us grace to follow him
in faithful obedience to your commands;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

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