Embracing the Mysteries of Life

December 18, 2022
Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Readings for Today

O Antiphons of Advent
December 17–23


“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20–21

As we begin the Fourth Week of Advent, we focus ever more directly upon the miracle that took place over 2,000 years ago. The passage quoted above presents us with the words of the angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph in a dream. This was one of four dreams that Joseph had in which an angel spoke to him concerning the Christ Child.

Saint Joseph is described in Matthew’s Gospel as “a righteous man” who was unwilling to expose his betrothed wife, Mary, to shame. We know the story well. Mary became pregnant after being betrothed to Joseph but before they lived together, and Joseph didn’t understand how this happened. Mary’s virtue and goodness would have appeared to contradict the possibility of her becoming pregnant when she did. Joseph was planning on doing what he thought was the honorable thing. He decided to divorce her quietly so that she would not endure public shame.

But God’s plan was so much greater than what Joseph could initially comprehend. The Incarnation of the Son of God within the womb of his betrothed required supernatural understanding. And that’s what Joseph was given. Though he had a dream in which an angel spoke to him, a dream was not enough. The dream also needed to be accompanied by the gift of supernatural knowledge. Joseph listened in the dream and believed by the interior revelation of faith that this incredible reality was true. This Child was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit within the virginal womb of his betrothed, and Joseph accepted his God-given responsibility.

Joseph’s witness is one to ponder and be inspired by. First, it’s essential that we ponder the story as it happened and be inspired by God’s singularly unique plan by which He took on our human nature. But Joseph also provides us with inspiration for our own callings in life. Joseph inspires us to face any and every mystery in life that we encounter with the utmost trust in God. God’s wisdom and ways are always far beyond ours. Very often in life, God will call us to walk an unknown and mysterious path. Life does not always make perfect sense from a purely rational perspective. Very often, we must allow our human reason to be informed and led by God’s supernatural plan. For each of us, this mysterious path will be different. But if we are to walk by the same faith that Saint Joseph had, then we must always be willing to accept the most sublime mysteries in life and allow God’s revealing Word to clarify them.

Reflect, today, upon any way that you feel challenged by life’s circumstances. What tempts you to doubt, to be confused, or to feel uncertain? What is it that requires supernatural knowledge on your part to embrace? If God the Father chose to bring forth His divine Son in such a mysterious way, then we should not be surprised when God calls us to embrace similar mysteries in life. Walk by faith. Be inspired by Saint Joseph. Say “Yes” to that which God is asking of you. As you do, you will find that you will begin to walk down the most glorious road you can walk.

Most glorious Saint Joseph, you were a man of true righteousness and integrity. You were open to the inspired gift of faith and chose to walk by that faith as you faced the greatest of mysteries. Please pray for me that I may learn from you and be inspired to imitate the life that you lived. Saint Joseph, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: The Dream of St. Joseph By Anton Raphael Mengs, via Wikimedia Commons