By: Susan Ho,
Master of Arts in Ministry Student
Saint John's Seminary
The spotlight was on Joseph. This “righteous man” had every reason to be overjoyed about his engagement to Mary. He eagerly looked forward to the new life and home they would build together. Except there was a huge problem. Not only was Mary discovered with child, the child was not his!
The gospel reading today is very clear about Joseph’s intentions. This unassuming and quiet man could not bear the thought of scandalizing his young bride in public, so the choice came down to “divorce her quietly” (Matt. 1:19).
Joseph must have pondered on that difficult decision. He was a man of deep faith and wanted to do the right thing. He also knew God did not make mistakes. The God of his descendants delivered them through many great trials and he could trust God would deliver him through this trying time. But what was God’s will?
It took an angel to reveal to Joseph in a dream that Mary indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit. This would be no ordinary child. They were instructed to name their child Jesus, because He would one day redeem mankind. Instead of letting Mary go, Joseph decided to wholeheartedly trust God and to do as he was told when he woke up (Matt. 1:24). He might not have fully understood what everything was about, but his willingness to participate with Mary to submit to God’s plan brought salvation to the world.
The season of Advent is a time of preparation and anticipation for the great miracle of Christmas, when our Lord entered humanity in the flesh and dwelt among us. God may not always commission one of His angels to appear to us in a dream as he did for Joseph, but He certainly connects with each one of us in the same degree of intimacy. Maybe God is nudging you to respond with kindness to a homeless stranger in need of a warm meal. Perhaps that miraculously freed-up calendar is an invitation to spend more quality time with the family He gave you. Or, perhaps that Scripture passage you heard at Mass is God’s gentle way of inviting you to a deeper conversion of heart.
We may not always understand or fully grasp our circumstances, but we can always follow Joseph’s example and choose to trust in the God of promises. As we count down to the miracle of Christmas, may we ask for the grace to see God’s love dwelling among us and to be at the ready, like Joseph, to act and to respond. Amen.