Tag Archives: St. Joseph

Joseph the dreamer

St. Joseph, Gracias, Lempira, Honduras

St. Joseph, Gracias, Lempira, Honduras

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.

To dream – St. Joseph

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of the Lord.

The Gospels tell us little about him. In Matthew he, after his Hebrew namesake, is a man of dreams – that change his life and prepare the way for the Lord.

From a Nazi prison, Jesuit father Alfred Delp wrote a meditation on Joseph that has inspired me for many years. In part it reads:

“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 Joseph help us to set aside our personal agenda so that we may dream the dreams of God.

Reading and listening to people here, the choice of Pope Francis has awakened hope and stirred their imaginations. May God stir us to dream dreams and imagine how we may live the Reign of God.

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.

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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.