Gospel of Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord

Matthew 1:18-21

Then Mary the Mother of Jesus was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

Haydock

Verse 18. The account of the birth of Jesus Christ follows his genealogy. From these words, “before they came together,” Helvidius and others have started objections, which have been answered long ago by S. Jerom, where he shews in many examples from Scripture, that the words before and until do not signify what happened afterwards; for that point is left indefinite, but only what was done before, or not done. Thus when it is said, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool, Ps. cix, by no means signifies, that after the subjection of his enemies, the Son of God is no longer to sit at the right hand of his Father. In common conversation, when we say that a man died before he reached his 30th year, we do not mean that he afterwards attained it. Or, should we say that Helvidius died before he did penance, we cannot mean that he afterwards did penance: the same conclusion should be deduced from the words, “before they came together,” the end being accomplished by the power of the operation of the Holy Ghost, without their going together. If we should advance, that such a man was cured before he went to a physician, the natural inference would be, that he did not go to a physician at all. Thus also in the language of Scripture, the word first-begotten does not mean after whom others were born, but before whom no one was born, whether there were further issue or not. And the reason is, because the law required that a sacrifice should be offered for the first-born, and that he should be redeemed very soon after his birth; nor did it allow the parents to wait and see if any other son should be born. E. — True and perfect marriage, and continual living in the same, without knowing each other. S. Aug. l. ii. Consen. Evang. c. i. B.

Verse 19. And Joseph her husband, knowing her strict virtue, was surprised at this her pregnancy, but “being a just man,” and not willing to expose her, by denouncing her, or giving her a bill of divorce, he had a mind to dismiss her privately, committing the whole cause to God. Let us learn from Joseph to be ever tender of our neighbour’s reputation, and never to entertain any injurious thoughts, or any suspicions to his prejudice. A.

Verse 20. Fear not to take, &c. i.e., fear not to marry her, if we suppose them not yet married, or if married already, the sense is, fear not to keep and remain with thy chaste wife; lay aside all thoughts of dismissing and leaving her. Wi. — As the incarnation of the Son of God was effected by the whole blessed Trinity, it may be asked why this operation is peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost, not only here, but in Luke ii, and in the apostles' creed? The answer is, because as power is attributed to the Father, wisdom to the Son, so goodness is attributed to the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of grace which proceed from it. Estius in diff. loca.

Verse 21. Jesus … he shall save, &c. The characteristic name of Saviour was peculiar to the Messias, by which he was distinguished, as well as by the adorable name of Jesus. The expectations of both Jew and Gentile looked forward to a saviour. S. Augustine, in the 18th book, 23d chapter, de Civitate Dei, introduces a curious anecdote. He mentions there, that he received from the eloquent and learned Proconsul Flactianus, a book containing in Greek the verses of one of the Sybils, which related to the coming of Christ. The substance of them is much the same as occurs in the prophecies of Isaiah, from which Virgil has likewise copied into his Pollio, many of the sublime thoughts which we find in that beautiful eclogue. It is remarkable that of the initials of these verses, S. Augustine had formed an acrostic to the following import, IhsouV CristoV Qeou uioV swthr; that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour. A.

Catena Aurea

18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Having said above, “And Jacob begat Joseph,” to whom Mary being espoused bare Jesus; that none who heard should suppose that His birth was as that of any of the forementioned fathers, he cuts off the thread of his narrative, saying, “But Christ’s generation was thus.” As though he were to say, The generation of all these fathers was as I have related it; but Christ’s was not so, but as follows, “His mother Mary being espoused.”

Chrys.: He announces that he is to relate the manner of the generation, shewing therein that he is about to speak some new thing; that you may not suppose when you hear mention of Mary’s husband, that Christ was born by the law of nature.

Remig.: Yet it might be referred to the foregoing in this way, The generation of Christ was, as I have related, thus, “Abraham begat Isaac.”

Jerome: But why is He conceived not of a Virgin merely, but of a Virgin espoused? First, that by the descent of Joseph, Mary’s family might be made known; secondly, that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; thirdly, that in her flight into Egypt she might have the comfort of a husband. The Martyr Ignatius [margin note: vid. Ign. ad Eph. 19] adds yet a fourth reason, namely, that His birth might be hid from the Devil, looking for Him to be born of a wife and not of a virgin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Therefore both espoused and yet remaining at home; for as in her who should conceive in the house of her husband, is understood natural conception; so in her who conceives before she be taken to her husband, there is suspicion of infidelity.

Jerome, Hieron. cont. Helvid. in princ.: It is to be known, that Helvidius, a certain turbulent man, having got matter of disputation, takes in hand to blaspheme against the Mother of God. His first proposition was, Matthew begins thus, “When she was espoused.” Behold, he says, you have her espoused, but as ye say, not yet committed; but surely not espoused for any other reason than as being to be married.

Origen: She was indeed espoused to Joseph, but not united in wedlock; that is to say, His mother immaculate, His mother incorrupt, His mother pure. His mother! Whose mother? The mother of God, of the Only-begotten, of the Lord, of the King, of the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of all.

Cyril, Epist. ad Monach. Egypt. (Ep. p. 7): What will any one see in the Blessed Virgin more than in other mothers, if she be not the mother of God, but of Christ, or the Lord, as Nestorius says? For it would not be absurd should any one please to name the mother of any anointed person, the mother of Christ. Yet she alone and more than they is called the Holy Virgin, and the mother of Christ. For she bare not a simple man as ye say, but rather the Word incarnate, and made man of God the Father. But perhaps you say, Tell me, do you think the Virgin was made the mother of His divinity? To this also we say, that the Word was born of the very substance of God Himself, and without beginning of time always coexisted with the Father. But in these last times when He was made flesh, that is united to flesh, having a rational soul, He is said to be born of a woman after the flesh. Yet is this sacrament in a manner brought out like to birth among us; for the mothers of earthly children impart to their nature that flesh that is to be perfected by degrees in the human form; but God sends the life into the animal. But though these are mothers only of the earthly bodies, yet when they bear children, they are said to bear the whole animal, and not a part of it only. Such do we see to have been done in the birth of Emmanuel; the Word of God was born of the substance of His Father; but because He took on Him flesh, making it His own, it is necessary to confess that He was born of a woman according to the flesh. Where seeing He is truly God, how shall any one doubt to call the Holy Virgin the Mother of God?

Chrysologus, Serm. 148: If you are not confounded when you hear of the birth of God, let not His conception disturb you, seeing the pure virginity of the mother removes all that might shock human reverence. And what offence against our awe and reverence is there, when the Deity entered into union with purity that was always dear to Him, where an Angel is mediator, faith is bridesmaid, where chastity is the giving away, virtue the gift, conscience the judge, God the cause; where the conception is inviolateness, the birth virginity, and the mother a virgin. [ed. note: The allusions here made may be illustrated by a passage in the Ad Uxor. ii. 1, of Tertullian, who, with reference to the civil usages, speaks of “the [cont. p. 42] happiness of that Marriage, which the Church “brings about, (conciliat,)” the “Oblation” confirms, the Blessing “seals,” the Angles “witness,” and the Father “ratifies,” In Chrysologus the Angel brings about, (interpres ost,) virtue is the oblation or bride’s gift, and a pure conscience is the witness.]

Cyril, Epist. ad Joan. Antioch. (Ep. p. 107): But if we were to say that the holy Body of Christ came down from heaven, and was not made of His mother, as Valentinus does, in what sense could Mary be the Mother of God? Gloss: The name of His Mother is added, “Mary.”

Bede, in Luc., c. 3: Mary in interpreted, ‘Star of the Sea,’ after the Hebrew; ‘Mistress,’ after the Syriac; as she bare into the world the Light of salvation, and the Lord. [ed. note, r: their rebellion. S. Ambrose interprets it “God from my race,” and “the bitterness of the sea.” de Instit. Virg. 33. It is not necessary to give the origin of these various interpretations.] Gloss: And to whom she was betrothed is shewn, Joseph.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Mary was therefore betrothed to a carpenter, because Christ the Spouse of the Church was to work the salvation of all men through the wood of the Cross.

Chrys.: What follows, “Before they came together,” does not mean before she was brought to the bridegroom’s house, for she was already within. For it was a frequent custom among the ancients to have their betrothed wives home to their house before marriage; as we see done now also, and as the sons-in-law of Lot were with him in the house.

Gloss: But the words denote carnal knowledge.

Pseudo-Chrys.: That He should not be born of passion, of flesh and blood, who was therefore born that He might take away all passion of flesh and blood.

Aug., de Nupt. et Concup., i, 12: There was no carnal knowledge in this wedlock, because in sinful flesh this could not be without carnal desire which came of sin, and which He would be without, who was to be without sin; and that hence He might teach us that all flesh which is born of sexual union is sinful flesh, seeing that Flesh alone was without sin, which was not so born.

Pseudo-Aug., in App. 122 et. al.: Christ was also born of a pure virgin, because it was not holy that virtue should be born of pleasure, chastity of self-indulgence, incorruption of corruption. Nor could He come from heaven but after some new manner, who came to destroy the ancient empire of death. Therefore she received the crown of virginity who bare the King of chastity. Farther, our Lord sought out for Himself a virgin abode, wherein to be received, that He might shew us that God ought to be borne in a chaste body. Therefore He that wrote on tables of stone without an iron pen, the same wrought in Mary by the Holy Spirit; “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

Jerome: And found by none other than by Joseph, who knew all, as being her espoused husband.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For, as a not incredible account relates, Joseph was absent when the things were done which Luke writes. For it is not easy to suppose that the Angel came to Mary and said those words, and Mary made her answer when Joseph was present. And even if we suppose thus much to have been possible, yet it could not be that she should have gone into the hill country, and abode there three months when Joseph was present, because he must needs have enquired the causes of her departure and long stay. And so when after so many months he returned from abroad, he found her manifestly with child.

Chrys.: He says exactly “was found,” for so we use to say of things not thought of. And that you should not molest the Evangelist by asking in what way was this birth of a virgin, he clears himself shortly, saying, “Of the Holy Ghost.” As much as to say, it was the Holy Ghost that wrought this miracle. For neither Gabriel nor Matthew could say any futher.

Gloss., ap Anselm: Therefore the words, “Is of the Holy Ghost,” were set down by the Evangelist, to the end, that when it was said that she was with child, all wrong suspicion should be removed from the minds of the hearers.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. 236 in App.: But not, as some impiously think, are we to suppose, that the Holy Spirit was as seed, but we say that He wrought with the power and might of a Creator. [ed. note: And thus S. Hilary speaks of the sementiva ineuntis Spiritus “efficacia.” de Trin. ii, 26]

Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct., ii, 5: That which is of any thing is either of the substance or the power of that thing; of the substance, as the Son who is of the Father; of the power, as all things are of God, even as Mary was with Child of the Holy Spirit.

Aug., Enchir. c. 40: Furthermore, this manner in which Christ was born of the Holy Spirit suggests to us the grace of God, by which man without any previous merits, in the very beginning of his nature, was united with the Word of God into so great unity of person, that he was also made son of God. [margin note: Aug., Enchir. c. 38] But inasmuch as the whole Trinity wrought to make this creature which was conceived of the Virgin, though pertaining only to the person of the Son, (for the works of the Trinity are indivisible,) why is the Holy Spirit only named in this work? Must we always, when one of the Three is named in any work, understand that the whole Trinity worked in that?

Jerome, Hieron. Cont. Helvid. in princip.: But says Helvidius; Neither would the Evangelist have said, “Before they came together,” if they were not to come together afterwards; as none would say, Before dinner, where there was to be no dinner. As if one should say, Before I dined in harbour, I set sail for Africa, would this have no meaning in it, unless he were at some times or other to dine in the harbour? Surely we must either understand it thus, - that “before,” though it often implies something to follow, yet often is said of things that follow only in thought; and it is not necessary that the things so thought of should take place, for that something else has happened to prevent them from taking place.

Jerome: Therefore it by no means follows that they did come together afterwards; Scripture however shews not what did happen.

Remig.: Or the word “come together” may not mean carnal knowledge, but may refer to the time of the nuptials, when she who was betrothed begins to be wife. Thus, “before they came together,” may mean before they solemnly celebrated the nuptial rites.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 5: How this was done Matthew omits to write, but Luke relates after the conception of John, “In the sixth month the Angel was sent;” and again, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee.” This is what Matthew relates in these words, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And it is no contradiction that Luke has described what Matthew omits; or again that Matthew relates what Luke has omitted; that namely which follows, from “Now Joseph her husband being a just man,” to that place where it is said of the Magi, that “They returned into their own country another way.” If one desired to digest into one narrative the two accounts of Christ’s birth, he would arrange thus; beginning with Matthew’s words, “Now the birth of Christ was on this wise;” then taking up with Luke, from “There was in the days of Herod,” [Luke 1:5] to, “Mary abode with her three months,” and “returned to her house;” then taking up again Matthew, add, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” [Matt 1:10]

19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Chrys.: The Evangelist having said that she was found with child of the Holy Ghost, and without knowledge of man, that you should not herein suspect Christ’s disciple of inventing wonders in honour of his Master, brings forward Joseph confirming the history by his own share in it; “Now Joseph her husband, being a just man.”

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. in App. s. 195: Joseph, understanding that Mary was with child, is perplexed that it should be thus with her whom he had received from the temple of the Lord, and had not yet known, and resolved within himself, saying, What shall I do? Shall I proclaim it, or shall I overlook it? If I proclaim it, I am indeed not consenting to the adultery; but I am running into the guilt of cruelty, for by Moses' law she must be stoned. If I overlook it, I am consenting to the crime, and take my portion with the adulterers. Since then it is an evil to overlook the things, and worse to proclaim the adultery, I will put her away from being my wife.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 5: St. Matthew has beautifully taught how a righteous man ought to act, who has detected his wife’s disgrace; so as at once to keep himself guiltless of her blood, and yet pure from her defilements; therefore it is he says, “Being a just man.” Thus is preserved throughout in Joseph the gracious character of a righteous man, that his testimony may be the more approved; for, the tongue of the just speaketh the judgment of truth.

Jerome: But how is Joseph thus called, “just,” when he is ready to hide his wife’s sin? For the Law enacts, that not only the doers of evil, but they who are privy to any evil done, shall be held to be guilty.

Chrys.: But it should be known, that “just” here is used to denote one who is in all things virtuous. For there is a particular justice, namely, the being free from covetousness; and another universal virtue, in which sense Scripture generally uses the word justice. Therefore being “just,” that is, kind, merciful, he “was minded to put away privily” her who according to the Law was liable not only to dismissal, but to death. But Joseph remitted both, as though living above the Law. For as the sun lightens up the world, before he shews his rays, so Christ before He was born caused many wonders to be seen.

Aug.: Otherwise; if you alone have knowledge of a sin that any has committed against you, and desire to accuse him thereof before men, you do not herein correct, but rather betray him. But Joseph, “being a just man,” with great mercy spared his wife, in this great crime of which he suspected her. The seeming certainty of her unchastity tormented him, and yet because he alone knew of it, he was willing not to publish it, but to send her away privily; seeking rather the benefit than the punishment of the sinner.

Jerome: Or this may be considered a testimony to Mary, that Joseph, confident in her purity, and wondering at what had happened, covered in silence that mystery which he could not explain.

Rabanus: He beheld her to be with child, whom he knew to be chaste; and because he had read, “There shall come a Rod out of the stem of Jesse,” of which he knew that Mary was come [ed. note: Jerome in loc. Ambros. de Spir. S. ii. 5. and Pseudo-Augustine (t. vi. p. 570.) so apply these words, considering Christ the ‘Branch’ or flower (flos) which is spoken of in the clause following. Cyril Alex. et Theod. in loc. explain it of Christ.], and had also read, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive,” he did not doubt that this prophecy should be fulfilled in her.

Origen: But if he had no suspicion of her, how could he be a just man, and yet seek to put her away, being immaculate? He sought to put her away, because he saw in her a great sacrament, to approach which he thought himself unworthy.

Gloss, ap Anselm: Or, in seeking to put her away, he was just; in that he sought it privily, is shewn his mercy, defending her from disgrace; “Being a just man, he was minded to put her away;” and being unwilling to expose her in public, and so to disgrace her, he sought to do it privily.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 1: But as no one puts away what he has not received; in that he was minded to put her away, he admits to have received her.

Gloss, part ap. Anselm, part in Ordinaria: Or, being unwilling to bring her home to his house to live with him for ever, “he was minded to put her away privily;” that is, to change the time of their marriage. For that is true virtue, when neither mercy is observed without justice, nor justice without mercy; both which vanish when severed one from the other. Or he was just because of his faith, in that he believed that Christ should be born of a virgin; wherefore he wished to humble himself before so great a favour.

20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Remig.: Because Joseph was minded, as has been said, to put Mary away privily, which if he had done, there would have been few who would not rather have thought her a harlot than a virgin, therefore this purpose of Joseph was changed by Divine revelation, whence it is said, “While he thought on these things.”

Gloss., ap Anselm: In this is to be noted the wise soul that desires to undertake nothing rashly.

Chrys.: Also observe the mercifulness of Joseph, that he imparted his suspicions to none, not even to her whom he suspected, but kept them within himself.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. in App. 195: Yet though Joseph think on these things, let not Mary the daughter of David be troubled; as the word of the Prophet brought pardon to David, so the Angel of the Saviour delivers Mary. Behold, again appears Gabriel the bridesman of this Virgin; as it follows, “Behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph.”

Ambrose: In this word “appeared” is conveyed the power of Him that did appear, allowing Himself to be seen where and how He pleases.

Raban.: How the Angel appeared to Joseph is declared in the words, “In his sleep;” that is, as Jacob saw the ladder offered by a kind of imagining to the eyes of his heart.

Chrys.: He did not appear so openly to Joseph as to the Shepherds, because he was faithful; the shepherds needed it, because they were ignorant. The Virgin also needed it, as she had first to be instructed in these mighty wonders. In like manner Zacharias needed the wonderful vision before the conception of his son.

Gloss., part Int., part Anselm: The Angel appearing calls him by name, and adds his descent, in order to banish fear, “Joseph, son of David;” Joseph, as though he were known to him by name and his familiar friend.

Pseudo-Chrys.: By addressing him as son of David, he sought to recall to his memory the promise of God to David, that of his seed should Christ be born.

Chrys.: But by saying, “Be not afraid,” he shews him to be in fear that he had offended God, by having an adulteress; for only as such would he have ever thought of putting her away.

Chrysologus: As her betrothed husband also he is admonished not to be afraid; for the mind that compassionates has most fear; as though he were to say, Here is no cause of death, but of life; she that brings forth life, does not deserve death.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Also by the words, “Fear not,” he desired to shew that he knew the heart; that by this he might have the more faith in those good things to come, which he was about to speak concerning Christ.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 5: Be not troubled that he calls her his wife; for she is not herein robbed of her virginity, but her wedlock is witnessed to, and the celebration of her marriage is declared.

Jerome: But we are not to think that she ceased to be betrothed, because she is here called wife, since we know that this is the Scripture manner to call the man and woman, when espoused, husband and wife; and this is confirmed by that text in Deuteronomy, “If one finds a virgin that is betrothed to a man in the field, and offer violence to her, and lie with her, he shall die, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife.” [Deut 22:25]

Chrys.: He says, “Fear not to take unto thee;” that is, to keep at home; for in thought she was already dismissed.

Raban.: Or, “to take her,” that is, in marriage union and continual converse.

Pseudo-Chrys.: There were three reasons why the Angel appeared to Joseph with this message. First, that a just man might not be led into an unjust action, with just intentions. Secondly, for the honour of the mother herself, for had she been put away, she could not have been free from evil suspicion among the unbelievers. Thirdly, that Joseph, understanding the holy conception, might keep himself from her with more care than before. He did not appear to Joseph before the conception, that he should not think those things that Zacharias thought, nor suffer what he suffered in falling into the sin of unbelief concerning the conception of his wife in her old age. For it was yet more incredible that a virgin should conceive, than that a woman past the age should conceive.

Chrys.: Or, The Angel appeared to Joseph when he was in this perplexity, that his wisdom might be apparent to Joseph, and that this might be a proof to him of those things that he spoke. For when he heard out of the mouth of the Angel those very things that he thought within himself, this was an undoubted proof, that he was a messenger from God, who alone knows the secrets of the heart. Also the account of the Evangelist is beyond suspicion, as he describes Joseph feeling all that a husband was likely to feel. The Virgin also by this was more removed from suspicion, in that her husband had felt jealousy, yet took her home, and kept her with him after her conception. She had not told Joseph the things that the Angel had said to her, because she did not suppose that she should be believed by her husband, especially as he had begun to have suspicions concerning her. But to the Virgin the Angel announced her conception before it took place, lest if he should defer it till afterwards she should be in straits. And it behoved that Mother who was to receive the Maker of all things to be kept free from all trouble. Not only does the Angel vindicate the Virgin from all impurity, but shews that the conception was supernatural, not removing his fears only, but adding matter of joy; saying, “That which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Gloss. ord: To be “born in her,” and “born of her,” are two different things; to be born of her is to come into the world; to be born in her, is the same as to be conceived. Or the word, “born,” is used according to the foreknowledge of the Angel which he has of God, to whom the future is as the past.

Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. N. et V. Test. q. 52: But if Christ was born by the agency of the Holy Ghost, how is that said, “Wisdom hath built herself an house?” [Prov 9:1] That house may be taken in two meanings. First, the house of Christ is the Church, which He built with His own blood; and secondly, His body may be called His house, as it is called His temple. But the work of the Holy Spirit, is also the work of the Son of God, because of the unity of their nature and their will; for whether it be the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, that doeth it, it is the Trinity that works, and what the Three do, is of One God.

Aug., Enchir., 38: But shall we therefore say that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the man Christ, that as God the Father begot the Word, so the Holy Spirit begot the man? This is such an absurdity, that the ears of the faithful cannot bear it. How then do we say that Christ was born by the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit did not beget Him? Did He create Him? For so far as He is man He was created, as the Apostle speaks; “He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” [Rom 1:3] For though God made the world, yet is it not right to say that it is the Son of God, or born by Him, but that it was made, or created, or formed by Him. But seeing that we confess Christ to have been born by the Holy Spirit, and of the Virgin Mary, how is He not the Son of the Holy Spirit, and is the Son of the Virgin? It does not follow, that whatever is born by any thing, is therefore to be called the son of that thing; for, not to say that of man is born in one sense a son, in another a hair, or vermin, or a worm, none of which are his son, certainly those that are born of water and the Spirit none would call sons of water; but sons of God their Father, and their Mother the Church. Thus Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and yet is the Son of God the Father, not of the Holy Spirit.

21. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

Chrys.: What the Angel thus told Joseph, was beyond human thought, and the law of nature, therefore he confirms his speech not only be revealing to him what was past, but also what was to come; “She shall bring forth a Son.”

Gloss., ap Anselm: That Joseph should not suppose that he was no longer needed in this wedlock, seeing the conception had taken place without his intervention, the Angel declares to him, that though there had been no need of him in the conception, yet there was need of his guardianship; for the Virgin should bear a Son, and then he would be necessary both to the Mother and her Son; to the Mother to screen her from disgrace, to the Son to bring Him up and to circumcise Him. The circumcision is meant when he says, “And thou shalt call His name Jesus;” for it was usual to give the name in circumcision.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, “Shall bear thee a Son,” as to Zacharias, “Behold, Elisabeth thy wife shall bear thee a son.” For the woman who conceives of her husband, bears the son to her husband, because he is more of him than of herself; but she who had not conceived of man, did not bear the Son to her husband, but to herself.

Chrys.: Or, he left it unappropriated, to shew that she bare Him to the whole world.

Raban.: “Thou shalt call His name,” he says, and not, “shalt give Him a name,” for His name had been given from all eternity.

Chrys.: This further shews that this birth should be wonderful, because it is God that sends down His name from above by His Angel; and that not any name, but one which is a treasure of infinite good. Therefore also the Angel interprets it, suggesting good hope, and by this induces him to believe what was spoken. For we lean more easily to prosperous things, and yield our belief more readily to good fortune.

Jerome: Jesus is a Hebrew word, meaning Saviour. He points to the etymology of the name, saying, “For He shall save His people from this sins.”

Remig.: He shews the same man to be the Saviour of the whole world, and the Author of our salvation. He saves indeed not the unbelieving, but His people; that is, He saves those that believe on Him, not so much from visible as from invisible enemies; that is, from their sins, not by fighting with arms, but by remitting their sins.

Chrysologus: Let them approach to hear this, who ask, Who is He that Mary bare? “He shall save His people;” not any other man’s people; from what? “from their sins.” That it is God that forgives sins, if you do not believe the Christians so affirming, believe the infidels, or the Jews who say, “None can forgive sins but God only.” [Luke 5:1]

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