St. Joseph provides a faithful heart, full of love for God!
“When Joseph awoke, he did what angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took his wife into his home.” -Mt 1:24
St. Joseph is a model of discernment, and he makes the Christmas story very real and down to earth.
When Mary and Joseph were betrothed, they were legally bound by a marriage covenant. But they did not yet live together, as it took time for the bridegroom to prepare a home where he could receive his bride. It was during that time of preparation that Joseph discovered Mary had conceived.
Imagine the pain and confusion this must have brought to him. He loved Mary deeply, and he loved God. He did not want to expose Mary to the Law as someone who had broken the covenant of their betrothal. Yet he must have also trusted God and Mary. Perhaps he knew that something marvelous – not scandalous – was taking place. His decision to “divorce her quietly” would have meant that he packed his things quietly and went away. Where could he send young Mary if he dismissed her as his bride? Who would imagine that Joseph was innocent? Perhaps he was willing to take all the scandal of people’s opinion on himself to shield Mary from suspicion and gain her the sympathy of the whole town.
Faced with something he could not understand, yet loving Mary and God, Joseph was fearful, but not paralyzed. Something needed to be done, and Joseph made a decision about the next good step. He made a reasoned decision and entrusted it to God. And when God gave further light, Joseph embraced this new information decisively. He awoke and did what God had directed through the angel.
Joseph couldn’t provide a home, being uprooted by Ceasar’s census. He couldn’t provide a room, because all the inns were full. But he provided a faithful heart, full of love for God and neighbor – for Mary, his tender bride. In Joseph’s heart, Mary found strength and shelter as the mystery of God-made-man was first revealed in the birth of Jesus.
When we are faced with difficult situations we cannot understand, may St. Joseph help us make the next good step and entrust it to God. May we be ready to put aside our plans when God gives us clearer light. And may we have faithful hearts, eager to see Jesus made manifest in our love for God and one another.