By Fr. Frank Timar, M.S.C.
Joseph had a good trade as a carpenter and could provide for Mary. We can imagine how crushed he was when it became apparent that his beloved was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father of the child Mary was expecting. He felt betrayed and was hurt and disillusioned. All he planned and dreamed about was taken from him. We might say his life was just about over, at least the life he was hoping for. Although he was hurt, he wasn’t going to hurt the woman he loved. What an amazing thing he was about to do. He planned to dismiss Mary quietly. But then he had a dream, and an angel told him to go ahead with his plan and marry the woman he loved because Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. Her child will be the Savior promised ages before. And amazingly, Joseph believed all this and said yes to God’s fantastic plan. What great faith!
When we think about Joseph’s response to a huge crisis in his life, we are sure to admire his faith, but then we wonder if our faith is anything like his complete trust in God. We all have a crisis now and then that causes us no end of trouble in our lives. After all, we are human. But we also have a choice in how we respond when everything around us appears to be falling apart. Some of us are so overwhelmed by our problems that we are full of resentment and we look for someone to blame for our misfortunes. Others isolate themselves because of the problems caused by their spouses or their children. And still others live invisible lives, unwilling to face their friends and their families with their anger or hurt. They suffer quietly, and they never ask for help or seek pity.
It is very likely that people we know, maybe even people close to us, are in a real crisis and their lives are a real mess with few, if any, good options. It is also highly likely that this Christmas season may find many who will feel just like Joseph—alone, hurt, and disillusioned. Joseph decided to let go of his dreams. As an honorable man, he protected Mary’s dignity and decided to go away quietly and pick-up the broken pieces of his shattered life. But this was not the end of the story for Joseph. The last thing God wanted was for Joseph to get out of the picture. God reached out to Joseph and invited him to remain with Mary, and participate in everything that would happen.
That’s our story too. We limp along like Joseph, quietly enduring the messes of our lives. Jesus came into Mary and Joseph’s lives and He comes to us too. We are never alone. Emmanuel, God is with us.