Joseph and the dreams of God

As we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, Joseph is often the hidden member of the Holy Family. Fr. James Martin, S.J., recently wrote about this recently in an article in Slate.


Only in the Gospel of Matthew do we learn anything significant about Joseph.

Like his Jewish counterpoint, Joseph, the son of Jacob, he is a dreamer. In fact, dreams change his lives.

In today’s Gospel, Matthew1: 18-25, he is told not to put Mary away but to take her as his wife. Then after the visit of the Magi another dream leads him to escape to Egypt; in another dream he is told when to return home.

God continually send him dreams to change his plans – and Joseph responds faithfully. He is open to God’s plans.

From his prison in Nazi Germany, Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J., wrote this of Joseph:

Joseph is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. . . .

Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. It is his message for us and his judgment of us. We have crabbed and confined God within the pitiable limits of our obstinacy, our complacency, our mania for ‘self expression.’ We have given God only the minimum of recognition.

May our hearts be opened this Advent season to the dreams that God sends us, opening our hearts and lives to God’s Reign, welcoming the Child and protecting Him and all other children of the world.


One response to “Joseph and the dreams of God

  1. As you know, John, I spent the last two years of my time at ISU discerning about the priesthood. Going so far as to live with some Franciscan friars in Hazard, KY for six months after graduation. Through my discernment, I learned that I was not only called to enter more deeply into my relationship with God through the union of marriage but to nurture new life through fatherhood.

    Twenty four years and two daughters later, it’s clear to me that not only did God call me to change my vocation plans but has continued to call me to change my plans/my ideas of what it means to be a father. The most significant way has been by continually challenging me to question the societal norms of parenting that I grew up with.

    For example, saying “I am sorry” when I’ve given into the irritability of the day and treated one of the girls in a disrespectful manner (Parents can actually be wrong and admit it?). Accepting God’s challenge to work on my own brokenness so that I might be the nurturing parent She’s called me to be (Parents aren’t infallible?). Or, the kernel of wisdom I was blessed with early on in Abbie’s life when I realized it’s not Abbie the person I dislike, but her behavior and being able to affirm her being by communicating this difference to her (I grew up with the belief that my parents didn’t like ME when I did something wrong.).

    Like Joseph’s experience, being open to God’s plans has resulted in a deeper and richer relationship with God. I can honestly say that I never dreamed that my children would lead me to a deeper relationship with God! That THEY WOULD “nurture new life through fatherhood”. Hey, wasn’t that what I was called to! LOL

    And since even less is written about Joseph after Jesus began his public ministry, I wonder what other changes in plans Joseph faithfully responded to after Jesus left home. Abbie has been away at college for three months and I’ve already had to change my plans. Here I thought “one down and one to go” yet a whole new chapter in fatherhood has opened. Being “an adult” at 18 doesn’t mean that she still might not need a little guidance; and that IT IS “guidance” meaning she takes what she likes and gets to leave the rest; that I have to be prepared to turn her care over to God when she doesn’t make the decisions I think she should make. Isn’t this the freedom God gives me daily? Once again, my plan for ME to “nurture new life through fatherhood” includes my relationship with God being nurtured by my daughter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s