The New Testament begins with a list of names, then quickly moves on to the story of a man who thought his fiancee had cheated on him. The man's response is exemplary.
He lived in a culture where engagement (betrothal) was legally binding and adultery, in theory, carried the death penalty. Yet here she was, pregnant, and there was no doubt that the baby was not his.
Joseph, we are told, was a righteous man. He still cared for Mary. He did not want to expose her to public disgrace. So he made plans to divorce her quietly. This meant that he would give her a certificate that would allow her to marry someone else. When adultery is a criminal offence you need to be very sure before you before you marry a divorced woman*. The certificate was all-important. Joseph would give her the certificate with the minimum of fuss.
And this matters. Matthew's gospel tells us that Jesus has a lot to say about righteousness. Here, right at the beginning, we get a glimpse of the righteous behaviour that Jesus is looking for. Maybe Jesus was influenced by his dad.
We can only guess how Joseph felt.
The story goes on to say that things were not as they seemed. It's a wonderful story. But let's not miss the wonderful character of Joseph, a man who embodied the teaching of Jesus, even before it was given.
* If that sentence sounds sexist, that's how the law was.