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A reflection for St. Joseph Day: March 19

(Several years ago I preached this homily in Advent but even here in Lent, on the feast of St Joseph, it can offer a beginning for prayer and reflection. The scriptures for St. Joseph Day can be found here.) 

2,000 years ago, when Christ was about to be born,
only a very few individuals had any notion at all
of what was about to happen
and first among them were Mary and Joseph.
I wonder if Mary might have asked her betrothed,
 “Joseph… are you ready for this?” 

There was at least one moment
when Joseph was not ready for this:
when he was ready only to quietly break off his betrothal to Mary
- until an angel spoke to him in a dream and told him,
 “Joseph, be not afraid…” 

Be not afraid – of what?
Of taking Mary into his home as his wife?
Of caring for a child he knew he had not fathered?
Yes... but more than that, the angel was telling Joseph: 
“Be not afraid of how the mystery of God
is weaving itself into your life,
into your relationship with Mary,
and into your whole future.
Be not afraid, Joseph, of how the mystery of God
will touch your life, shape your life, turn your life around
and stand it on its head!" 

Like Joseph, we all face times
when God has allowed things to happen
or has allowed things to fail to happen,
that intimately and critically touch and shape us
and turn our lives around,
often in ways we never dreamed would happen,
in ways we had hoped would never happen…

And in all of this the word to us
is precisely the angel’s word to Joseph in his dream: 
“Be not afraid because in everything, in all things,
God is with you...”

"Joseph, are you ready for this?" 

To be ready is to renew our faith, our trust,
in all the ways the mystery of God’s presence
is weaving itself into our lives:
touching and shaping and turning our lives around
in ways we may never have imagined or wanted.

And most of all, to be ready
is to trust that God is with us
in everything, in all things...

Take a moment on this day
to imagine Joseph's doubts, his anticipation, his anger,
his regrets, his concern for Mary, his fears…
his wonder, his confusion, his awe…

Imagine Joseph handing his troubles over to God
and trusting, putting his fears aside…

Imagine yourself in Joseph's dream...  and pray:
I come to you today, Lord, 
with a heart sometimes ready, sometimes not ready,
to love you, trust you and follow you...

My problems, my worries and my burdens
loom larger than life
and back me into corners where I feel alone
and wonder where you have brought me,
where you will lead me
- even if you are still with me...

My heart needs a dream, an angel, a message
reminding me not to be afraid...

All day long and even in my sleep, Lord,
 remind me as you reminded Joseph
that with you I can face all things,
endure all things, do all things,
accept all things...

Especially when my life and my heart
are spun around and turned upside down;
when my sense of direction fails me;
when I fear the path on which I walk:
remind me then, Lord, not to be afraid
and to trust that with you at my side
I can be ready
for whatever comes my way...

I come to you today with a heart
sometimes ready and sometimes not ready:
ready or not, Lord,
here I come!

Ready or not, Lord, here I am
and here I stand
in need of your love and your strength...

Be with me, Lord, and be with me, St. Joseph,
in everything and in all things...



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