Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, a wonderful day to focus on the ultimate trust of the Virgin Mary. A day, too, to think about the impact of that decision to say “yes” to the unknown. It altered Mary’s life in a way she could never had imagined, and also forever changed the world of the man who loved her. March is also St. Joseph’s month, and Mary and Joseph’s decisions to give themselves completely over to God go hand in hand.
The few words about Joseph in the Scriptures give us a portrait of a strong, kind and loving man. And if I might say, perhaps a little put upon? The situation he found himself in is a real reflection of the confusion and uncertainty we have in our own lives when we think we can always count on getting things done according to prescription. Our plans, no matter how carefully plotted and thought out, mean nothing when God steps in to change them. Our lives turn upside down in the blink of an eye : a telephone call in the middle of the day, a letter in the mail, a wrong step off the curb.
Picture our friend Joseph, certainly a good and righteous man, getting ready to marry his lovely girl from Nazareth. They are betrothed, they sign the agreement, he gets ready to do the things he needs to do to plan the rest of their lives together. Then Mary tells him the news. I can only imagine what goes through his mind. A baby? An angel? A message from God??? His head must be spinning. “What do I do? I can’t expose her to the shame her condition will bring. Not only scandalous gossip, but her very life is at stake as well.” No wonder the poor man has to lie down, take a nap, and hope with a little rest he can figure out what to do next. And then “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.”
What a perfect place for the Lord to step in and assure this tired and worried groom-to-be. Sleep is a blessing. It brings rest and refreshment and an opportunity to awake to new possibilities. Joseph’s sleep comes with a dream and a mysterious message. Joseph, devoted and trusting without question, does what God tells him. He doesn’t understand exactly why, but he knows that by saying yes, he plays a part in a plan beyond anything he ever thought possible.
As we walk through Lent, we might ask God to let us wake from our dreams each morning, ready to say yes to His plan for us. We can take comfort knowing that long ago a good man’s dream, and a humble woman’s “yes” were the pivotal steps on the road to our salvation.
This reflection was written by parishioner Doreen Salse who has contributed to the blog many times over the years.