During this Advent season we have been invited to reflect on our openness of mind and heart, to notice our longing for God, and to be aware of how God wants to make a home within us. The narrative of Mary’s “yes” to receiving God’s Word completely into her life is often the starting point of such reflection. In the midst of her doubts and questions, she is willing to trust God’s call to bear God’s light for the world. In today’s gospel we hear of Joseph’s openness and willingness to trust; a call also heralded by an angel of God.
Although the law would have permitted severe punishment, even death, for Mary as the betrothed of Joseph, yet seemingly pregnant with another’s child, Joseph decides to divorce her quietly, trying to protect her from shame and humiliation. He has already shifted the ground of his decision making from the “letter of the law” to compassion, choosing a culturally acceptable practice. And now the angel of God comes to him in a dream, asking him to take Mary as his wife, reassuring him that the child has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. This is a lot to absorb!! We don’t hear of his doubts or questions, but I imagine he had them. “I am the one who was wronged, yet I am to bear the humiliation??” Joseph has a tremendous openness of mind and heart as he sets aside all preconceived notions, cultural expectations, and personal preferences to hear God’s invitation, and respond with “Yes.”
Today is a good time to reflect on our habits of decision making – do we use the “law”, common sense, reason, compassion, cultural expectations, or personal preferences? Do we recognize the angel of God -and other choices that may bring? Today we pray for openness of mind and heart to recognize God’s voice and to welcome the “Light of the World.”