In those days, an engagement period was a time, when the couple lived in fidelity to each other; considered married—but living apart. It was evident that something had happened with Mary; but through it all, Joseph was a gentleman, not wanting to cause Mary any more embarrassment. He didn’t speak of the pregnancy, and decided his reasons for divorce, were not to be made public. It’s apparent, that Mary didn’t tell Joseph, she had been given a message and proposition, from God himself. It may have not done any good in convincing Joseph; so, as God would have it; he sent him a message—through a dream. Dreams are one of the ways that God speaks to us; not the nightmares—but the dreams that sometimes are very clear; and other times disturbing, and challenging. Either way; God sends us messages to help us—if we keep an open mind and heart—to recognize and accept them. Most of the time, it’s to calm our fears. The message to Joseph was, “Don’t’ be afraid to take Mary as your wife; into your home”. We can be having a problem or concern, and through a dream, God will give us a solution, or a means of figuring out, what he wants from us. God’s messages are awesome! When we get them in dreams, or in conversations with others, or from something we read and meditate on; it blows our minds, and we smile and praise God, and say, ‘thank you’. We make our lives so much better and liberating, when we believe.
Mary believed the message God sent her through an angel. Joseph believed the message God sent him in a dream. We believe, that because of their faith: all of creation is beneficiary, of the ‘Light’ that will come into the world, on Christmas Day. Until then, the world is in darkness; a world without it’s Savior. A time, when a darkness of unknowing prevails. A time, when people have no hope—faced with sorrow and pain. A time of looking forward to the Messiah, who will save us all. That’s what Advent is about. Our spirits are with the ancient people, who watch and prepare for the Coming. They had an idea what to expect, due to what, they had been told by the Prophets—still anxious of the reality. They looked for the signs, but, there were no signs; they just felt closer to the big event; and they worked harder to turn away from sin—toward God. We can learn from them; and put into practice, what have been—time-tested traditions—to prepare for any great event—that is divine. The traditions of old, start with prayer.
For most of us, prayer is how we enjoy God—it’s a way of life—we are always praying. We pray when we are happy—praising God; we pray in thanksgiving—when things are going our way; we pray when we are in sorrow and pain—asking for compassion and healing. Prayer leads us to form community. We seek to tell each other, our joys and sorrows; we confess our faults, and look for compassion, support, and encouragement; and in community, we find ‘Light’ because we believe Jesus, when he says that he is with us, when two or more gather in his name. A natural by-product of prayer and community, is service. We talk to each other about the needs of the poor, and how we can provide it for them. We mobilize as a community to deliver the goods. And, we always…always feel good when we help others. Who in service does not admit; that we get more in giving, than receiving? We can only give, what God has given us. Those with a gift for gab, advocate for the poor. Those with healthy bodies, use their hands to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. Those with vehicles provide rides. Those with money, give Christmas presents, food, and clothing. And, through it all; we fast; we do without, so that others will receive from us.
We still have a few days left in Advent, to prepare ourselves for the big day—by continuing to serve the poor; each act of generosity and love, is a perfect gift we can present to Jesus—the ‘Light of the World’ –on Christmas Day--Christmas Day! —when the ‘Divine’ takes a human face—not, a baby Jesus, sentimental gesture—but a promise of Good News…and the challenge to live in Christ, and to pray through Christ; …after all…we are the Body of Christ.
Deacon Al. December 18, 2016. Mt. 1:18-24.