Joseph, being a just man,
wanted to put her away quietly…
but, an angel of the Lord appeared
to him in a dream.
Matthew 1: 19-20
Joseph had his plans, what appeared reasonable to him.
He didn’t want to hurt Mary but he also might have wanted to wash his hands of this mess – his fiancée is pregnant and he’s not responsible.
Into this mess, God intervenes in a dream. Joseph, like his Old Testament namesake, has a number of dreams that change his life.
Joseph doesn’t let himself be tied to his plans – but is open to dreams, to what is larger than himself, to the plans of God. And though he says nothing in all the Gospels, though he is the one whose plans are sidelined, he can show us how to respond to God’s call.
Writing from a Nazi prison, Father Alfred Delp, S.J., wrote
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.
God’s call opened Joseph to being holy – not merely a “just man.”
That dream opened him to experience the presence of God in his life, in a very concrete way: he would hold in his arms the child of Mary, Jesus, God-with-us.
Seven years ago, comfortable in my ministry in Ames, something happened that, like Joseph’s dream, moved me to consider something different; because of this, I am in Honduras where I am continually being opened to God’s presence.
May our hearts be always opened to the dreams that open to us the way to God. It can give us great joy – even though it may be hard, even though it changes our plans.