Joseph's Dream

Scripture      Matthew 1:18-24


But just when he was resolved to do this,

an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,

for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus,

for he will save his people from their sins…

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the Angel of the Lord commanded;

he took her as his wife.


This week’s Gospel celebrates Joseph's role in the whole mystery of the Incarnation. Joseph is the illustrious son of David. His lineage can be traced back to the greatest and noblest of patriarchs. It is not so much the fact of his royal blood or glorious heritage that exalts Joseph before God or in our eyes. It is rather his virtue and holiness of life that makes him great in God’s sight and proves him to be “the Prince of the House of David.” Joseph as we know was a village carpenter. He was a just citizen.  Just, not because he didn’t cheat his clients or juggle the prices or exploit the innocent ones. He was a good and just man. He was without reproach. He fulfilled the laws completely and he must have loved to praise God in the synagogue singing the psalms and worshiping in the temple in Jerusalem on the great feasts. One could say of him: “There was no falsehood in him.” Now that’s a compliment!


God never identifies a person for a great work without bestowing on that person a mind and heart which eminently fit the divine mission. Joseph was destined by the Triune God for the highest dignity of any man on earth. He was chosen to be Mary's wife and foster-father to Jesus. So it follows, his soul must have possessed a splendor of virtue never before attained. Joseph’s first appearance in the Gospels is in the little village of Nazareth, a place somewhat suspect - “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  We can imagine a simple dwelling with a workshop attached where Joseph plied his trade, living an ordinary hidden life,serving his neighbours. He was so little accounted, that in later years the people actually were perplexed and hesitant to believe that this obscure laborer’s son could be of any import.


And then Joseph entered into the life of Mary. Theirs was a relationship of deep love, not dictated by social standards or parental arrangement. During the time of their betrothal when “they had not yet come together” Joseph became aware that Mary was pregnant. What a shock! On the one hand Joseph was bound by his love for Mary. On the other hand, he was mesmerized by the fact that she was pregnant. He did not know of the Angel’s message or of the plan of God. He was filled with doubt and confusion. Though disturbed and in anguish Joseph did not act hastily. He waited on God, weighing all the options and in discerning decided to “put her away quietly.”


Joseph, her husband, an upright man, unwilling to expose her to the law, decided to divorce her privately. So many lessons learned here. Most of us can survive routine, but it's the unexpected that throws us. We don't like to have our plans disrupted, a curve thrown in our organized day or a glitch in our schedules or a new twist in a secure relationship. How agonizing it must have been for Joseph to struggle with this situation that seemed to be an impossibility! How could Mary, be pregnant?  


Pray: Joseph, teach me a posture of openness and trust in the face of the unexpected in my life. Journey with me as I allow myself to be taken over by the God of Surprises. Be with me when I am called upon to make decisions in the moment. Joseph, disciple of integrity, help me to discern and grow in fidelity to self and to the movement of God's life within me. Teach me to embrace conversion and its dying to self. Suspicion and gossip would not prevent you, Joseph, from walking in fidelity to self and God. What a cost!


Scripture recounts Jacob was the father of Joseph, husband of Mary. It was of her that Jesus, who is called the Messiah, was born."  Joseph did not need to have the limelight in order to enable what was essential - birthing Christ  - for others.  But in his darkest hour ... then the miracle happens for him. Joseph too is visited by an angel. When he had fallen into a deep sleep from sheer exhaustion and disappointment, he was warned in a dream:



“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife

for it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.

She will bear a son whom you, Joseph,

shall call Jesus, for he is to save his people from their sins.


This was the marvel – unprecedented in human history – of which the prophet’s spoke – “a virgin shall give birth.” Joseph’s heart must have burst forth in tears of joy and humble anticipation. With an attitude of reverence and expectant hope, Joseph took Mary as his wife into his home. 


Pray: Joseph, man of dreams, teach me how to grow in sensitivity to hearing, recognizing and responding to God's voice within me and within the relationships and happenings of my life. Joseph show me how to be overtaken by the presence of God. Help me to deal with mystery and the unexpected. Joseph, silent one, help me understand the peace and joy of silent awe before the mystery of God in my life.


Joseph never sought any miraculous intervention. He simply obeyed what he believed God was directing him to do. He responded with a sense of rightness - a sense of peace in his heart  - and became a guide and protector of Mary and the child, Jesus. He is often called, ‘Faithful Guardian’ and his most eloquent virtue is his trust in the infinite goodness of his God! Joseph obeyed with such simplicity that it made it easier for him to discern God’s will. Selfish motives under any guise get in the way of hearing God daily. Divine inspiration comes to the simple and lowly and humble hearted ones. Joseph’s trust in God is enough to sustain him all throughout the journey. Joseph, the silent, solitary one, remained constant in his companionship of Mary and his parenting of the child and young man, Jesus, living out the rest of his days in a hidden life of Nazareth. 


Carrying Grace       Lift up your spirit. Cry to God and you will be answered!



#2 arletteh 2010-12-18 20:54
the "young woman"in Isaiah is the "virgin" who shall conceive.the sign that Joseph so humbly receives in his dream IS as deep as Sheol and as high as heaven.It brings no fear, for Joseph is a righteous man,in right relationship with God, with people and with all creation. Oh. blessed Joseph, pray for us!
#1 arletteh 2010-12-18 20:45
Matthew writes so beautifully and peacefully about Joseph. He states only the facts. Under the circumstances, the words he chooses reveal his trust in God, his love of Joseph: “in this way”,--“a righteous man”,---”to dismiss her quietly”,---“he took her as his wife.” In Matthew’s mind and heart continually seem to be the promise of the Messiah and the prophecies about him: “Joseph, son of David”,---“he will save his people”. Matthew has no illusions as to the kind of Messiah is to come: “he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph is a man whose spirit will recognize the spirit of the Messiah in the happenings of his life. I think Joseph must have been much acquainted and loved much, the Scriptures of his people: “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength”(Is.30 :15). “A bruised reed he will not break. “(Is. 42:3).He can be surprised by God’s most unconventional ways: “as far as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways above your ways.” And thus, for Matthew, the “young woman” in Isaiah becomes the “ virgin” who “shall conceive” The sign that Joseph so humbly receives in his dream IS as deep as Sheol and as high as heaven. It brings no fear, for Joseph is a righteous man, in right relationship with God,with people and with all creation .Saint Joseph, pray for us!

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