This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the Gospel reading is from the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25, which talks about Mary’s betrothal to Joseph. To the Jews, betrothal was different from our modern-day engagement: the betrothed were already considered husband and wife, but the wife would continue living with her parents for another year before fulfilling the marital oath and moving in with her husband. When Mary was found to be pregnant, she had not yet lived with Joseph. Under the Mosaic law, married persons discovered to have committed adultery were to be stoned to death but the Jews were under Roman rule, so they were unable to execute death sentences and oftentimes just enacted divorces instead. There are two ways to explain Joseph’s motivations for wanting to divorce Mary: (1) he knew that he was not the child’s father and suspected that Mary was unfaithful yet he did not want to expose Mary to shame, so he decided to divorce her quietly; (2) he had always known that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and never suspected Mary of infidelity but felt himself unworthy to be adoptive father of the Messiah and hence wanted to divorce her. Regardless, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him that he was a descendant of David and that the child came from God, so he ought not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel also told Joseph to name the child Jesus, indicating that the child would inherit the line of David. Since the name Jesus means “God saves” and Jesus would save men from sin, it also indicated that Jesus was God. At the time, many Jews expected a political Messiah to free them from Roman rule, unlike Jesus, who came to free people from sin.