A reflection and prayer for St. Joseph Day

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Today, March 19, is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Mary's spouse and Jesus' foster father.  This reflection is based on an Advent homily I preached 13 years ago, based on this gospel.  

2,000 years ago, when Christ was about to be born,
only a few individuals had any notion at all
of what was about to happen.

I wonder, then, 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 said,
“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... all that.
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, all of us face times in our lives
when God has allowed things to happen
or has allowed things to fail to happen,
that intimately touch, shape and turn our lives around
in ways we never dreamed of,
in ways we wish we'd never known...

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, and in all things,
God is with you...

"Joseph, are you ready for this?"

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

And most of all, to be ready
is to trust that God is with me
in everything and 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…

Then, imagine Joseph handing over his troubles
and trusting in God,
putting his fears aside…

Imagine yourself in Joseph's dream
and the angel's word to you,
Be not afraid...

I return to you today, Lord,
with a heart sometimes ready, sometimes not ready,
to trust you, follow you, love you...

My problems, my worries, 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 did Joseph
that with you I can face all things,
accept all things, do all things,
endure all things...

Especially when my life and my heart
are spun around and upside down;
when my sense of direction fails me;
when I fear the path I walk:
remind me then, Lord, not to be afraid,
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...


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