The version of the birth story of Jesus that is told in the gospel of Matthew has a tender depiction of the person of Joseph as he wrestles with how to respond to Mary's unexpected pregnancy. With numerous options of how to respond, on a spectrum from brutal to kind, he chooses the kindest option he can think of: to separate himself from her. But it turns out even the most righteous option in Joseph's mind at that moment is not the most righteous option in the mind of God. The Holy Spirit is working in this whole story, bringing Joseph to a place where what it means to be righteous is something he could not have imagined. Righteousness as the story unfolds is for Joseph to embrace this child as his adoptive father, as he reconciles with Mary, the child's mother, and to become the one who will bring the child Jesus and Mary into safety in Egypt. This new righteousness comes to Joseph in his dreams, even as it did to the Joseph of Genesis.
As an adoptive parent, this year upon reflection on this tiny story that begins the gospel, I am particularly moved by the fact that Joseph and I share this same calling- to embrace, nurture and support a child who came into my (our) life through means other than my/our DNA.