3rd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
In today’s Gospel, we see Joseph reaching a decision to divorce Mary quietly after learning that she is carrying a child whom he knows is not his. But when he receives a visit from an angel from Heaven informing him how Mary’s conception came about and that it is the will of God that he take Mary to be his wife, Joseph obeys and does everything that the angel of the Lord commands him.
The story in today’s Gospel is a reminder to us that when God acts, He does so in His way, not in the way that we think He should or will act. Joseph wanted to marry a woman, have children, settle down with her, and grow old with her.
Perhaps he envisioned the joy of one day seeing his children marry and giving him grandchildren. But God had other plans for Joseph’s life. Joseph was destined to marry a woman with whom he would never have any sexual relations; therefore, there would be no biological children and grandchildren.
Not only this, but the woman whom he was destined to marry would carry a child that would not be his, but God’s. At first, when Mary approached Joseph and told him the news about all that had happened to her, Joseph did not believe her. He believed that Mary was with child, but he did not believe that the child had been conceived in the manner of which she spoke.
Mary, the woman to whom he was betrothed, told him that an angel from Heaven appeared to her with the astounding news that she would supernaturally conceive a child who would be called the Son of the Most High. The Child had been conceived, and now, here was Mary at Joseph’s doorstep come to tell him the good news. Joseph was “outta there.” He did not believe. What did Mary take him for?
He would divorce Mary, of course, but where would he go from here? Why did this happen? In the plans which Joseph had drawn up in his mind, and in the blueprint which he had sketched out for his life, this was not supposed to happen. But when the angel from Heaven appeared to him and informed him that this was God’s will for his life, Joseph had to make a decision.
Would he yield to God’s design for his life, or would he reject it and try to push forward with his own plans? Would he believe, trust, and surrender? We all know the answer to this, for the Scriptures teach that when Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary into his home.
What about you? Perhaps this Advent season finds you facing circumstances and situations that you were not expecting. You had a plan carefully drawn up in your mind as to how things were going to go with your marriage, your children, your job, your finances, or even your health. But God has interrupted these plans.
He has cut in on the blueprint that you have sketched out in your mind with designs of His own, and now you find yourself confused, disoriented, and bewildered. Are you willing to walk in the footsteps and faith of St. Joseph who was also taken by surprise?
God has a very specific will and purpose for your life – a purpose which you yourself may not even be aware of. But in order for Him to prepare you for that purpose, He must change you from within, and this He often does through the outward situations and circumstances that we face in our lives.
You must look beyond those circumstances and keep your eyes focused on the invisible hand that is using them to work out His perfect will for your life. This is what it means to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” When God cut in on Joseph’s plans with plans of His own, Joseph had to make a decision – a decision which God is now asking you to make as well. Are you willing to trust, believe, surrender, and obey?
In today’s journal entry, think about something that you are experiencing or facing in your life which you were not expecting to face. This was not what you had planned, but God allowed it to happen anyway. In your journal, write a letter to your Father in Heaven about those circumstances. Get everything off of your chest. Pour out your heart.
Then, ask Him to show you how to yield to His will through these unexpected circumstances and to trust, believe, and obey Him even in the midst of them. Ask Him to show you how to proceed. Ask Him to help you to learn whatever it is that He desires to teach you in and through those circumstances.
Then, make a promise to Him in this Advent season that you will follow the example provided by Joseph when, he, too, was confronted with unexpected circumstances that were not something which he had planned for his life, but which God had planned instead.