Dr. Christine J. Hong
This story always raises a question for me. Why did it take divine intervention for Joseph to choose the better way? It took a vision and a celestial being for Joseph not to abandon his partner. Part of me is frustrated with Joseph. It took the hand of God for him to choose a better way; however, when I reflect upon my frustration, I realize in many ways we are each Joseph. Each day we are faced with opportunities to do and be better in our relationships with one another and the world. Yet, when we are faced with opportunities to put our privilege and power at risk—to do what is right—we often decline to engage. Risk discomforts power.
Too often, I witness white folx evade doing the right thing in justice work. When the opportunity rises for white folx to do and say the right thing, which ultimately puts their relationships, jobs, or reputations at risk with other white folx, polite excuses arise— excuses that claim to “make room” for BIPOC3 voices by declining to use their own voices. Why is it that room for BIPOC is made only when it serves the interests of white folx taking the least amount of risk? How about risking solidarity with us? I sometimes wonder about and wish for divine intervention in these moments. What would happen if the divine would intervene and demand white folx take the better way? Why should doing the right thing take divine intervention?
I wonder about Mary and Joseph’s relationship in the aftermath of the dream. What was in Mary’s heart and on her tongue as Joseph told her about the dream that changed everything? What did Mary’s face look like as Joseph confessed that saving her and the baby took the work of a divine dream and command? I hope he eventually realized that doing right by her shouldn’t have necessitated divine intervention. I hope we might be people who do not need convincing that there is a better way. Let’s choose the better way and risk solidarity with one another.
3. An acronym for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color”