This weekend, as we celebrate the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, our Gospel presents the dilemma Joseph found himself in. He and Mary were betrothed (engaged), which in their culture meant that they were committed to each other, but not yet living together. To be with another was adultery. Mary was pregnant and he didn’t do it; he thought he knew her. How could this be?
The normal reaction would be shock, bewilderment, and then anger. What should he do? We are told he was a righteous man and to follow the law he could not continue in the relationship. But he was also compassionate (yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly), not vindictive. Righteous and compassionate: two wonderful qualities!
Then he has a dream: it is okay to continue the relationship, as all of this is part of God’s plan. He couldn’t have understood what was happening or what would happen, but somehow he knew it was okay. Joseph was close enough to God that he could trust Him and God’s plan moved on!
There are two aspects of this story I invite us to reflect on these last few days before Christmas. First, this wouldn’t have happened if Joseph had not been close to God. For us to discern God’s will, we need to be close to God, to share our deepest self with God, and to listen for God’s voice. I repeat what I have said many times before: we need to spend a few minutes of quiet each day sharing our thoughts with the Lord and listening to Him. It is how we will become friends. It is how we will hear the “dream” that He has for us.
Second, we need to be righteous and compassionate. Being righteous means we live Gospel values, we follow the rules. Being compassionate means we refrain from judging and are as gentle as possible with others.
As righteous, but compassionate friends of the Lord, who speak to Him and listen to Him each day, we will certainly find the “dream” He has for us, as did Joseph. And then God’s plan will move on.
I wish each of you and your family a blessed celebration of the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Buon Natale! Froehliche Weihnachten! Maligayang Pasko!