We have reached the last Sunday of Advent. It’s not too late to ask ourselves, how have we been doing in our spiritual preparation for Christmas? Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, we still have a full week to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the first coming of Christ.
How do you view your relationship with God? Is it any better than a few weeks ago at the beginning of Advent? One might say that our life story should be about our quest for God. Advent and Lent help remind us that we should make a step forward in that relationship and indeed we should. There is always room for improvement.
What might help us to examine our understanding of our personal relationship with God and His message to us throughout the Bible? The Bible is the Word of God made known to us. Is the Bible about our life story, about our quest for God? It certainly reflects various relationships and personal struggles of the children of God. But, the overarching purpose of the Bible isn’t about us reaching out to God, it is about God reaching out to us, which in turn invites us to reach out to Him.
This is the lens we should use in reading and meditating on the Word of God. God is in search of us, His lost lambs. God is opening up His arms to embrace us. God is giving Himself to us through His son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins, to open the gates of heaven for us. God is in quest of us, expressed throughout the Bible.
It’s very fitting on the last Sunday of Advent to take a look at the miracle of Christ coming into the world through the lens of St. Joseph. It may seem sometimes that Joseph is almost forgotten as we focus our attentions on Jesus and Mary. The Bible doesn’t say much about Joseph so some may think that it implies he had a small role in salvation history. But, that simply is not the case.
The Bible makes clear that Joseph was a very loving and just man. Joseph wanted to spare Mary from the presumed disgrace and possible death by stoning for becoming pregnant while betrothed to him, but before they lived together. By following his faith and being the just man that he was, Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. Before he carried out his intentions, an angel appeared to him in a dream. The Gospel makes it clear that he trusted in God, accepting the angel’s message, and thus taking Mary as his wife.
After Mary, Joseph is considered the next greatest Saint in heaven. The Bible also makes it clear that he was laser focused on carrying out God’s calling for him; to love, to teach, to provide for, and to protect the Son of God. I am sure in his humility he must of asked himself, why me? Saying to himself, “I am just an ordinary common man, a carpenter of meager means.” But he was wealthy in God’s eyes, for his deep selfless love of God and neighbor. How do we know this?! God chose him over every other man to be the foster father of His Son,
Jesus Christ. Nothing more really needs to be said about Joseph, but much can be understood through how God reached out to Joseph.
God spoke to Joseph through the angel that He sent to him in a dream. You might ask, why in a dream and not while he was awake like Mary was. God speaks to us in many ways. Our faith should be open to all possibilities. The first reading today gives us a clue. It states: “The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!” The Lord is telling Ahaz to dream big, to ask for whatever you can possibly imagine, even what may seem to be the impossible.
That doesn’t mean that He will grant us anything we want. If it is not God’s will, then we must trust in what God’s will is for us, for it is greater than we could ever imagine. God is saying to have faith in His love for us, that He can do what we may think is impossible. If He deems that what we want is ultimately in our best interest, get ready to be amazed. Why should we have faith in that? The reading goes on to say: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” This means “God is with us.” You can’t dream up anything more amazing than that!
When Joseph dreamed that he would be a part of this greatest sign from God, that God’s son would come into this world through the birth of Jesus from his wife Mary’s womb, you cannot dream up anything harder to believe then that. To be called to be the foster father of the Son of God, who could possibly imagine that, being responsible for the wellbeing of the Son of God?
But God knew he was the perfect choice, a faithful, God fearing man, whose life was dedicated in service to Him. A man who knew the true value of being a husband, father, and child of God. He would be the perfect teacher of Jesus along with Mary, in the importance of faith, family and community, in being the best of humanity. All Children first learn the basics of their faith values from their parents or guardians. This was true for Jesus as well. What better role models than Mary and Joseph?
God wants us to ask more of Him than we do, like Ahaz. He wants us to be open to His love and grace, like Joseph was. Even when we do not understand what is going on in our lives, we must trust and have faith in God’s love for us. When you find yourself in difficult situations dream as big as you can. Ask God for His help no matter how impossible it may seem. God is in quest of us; have faith in His love for us. Have faith in His love for you.