Joseph had an interesting twenty-four hour period. First, he learned that his betrothed, Mary, was “with child” and that he was not the biological father. Joseph did not believe the account of Mary and decided to “divorce her quietly.” Yet before being able to act on that decision, Mary’s story would be confirmed that night by the angel Gabriel. Joseph’s mind and heart were open to the move of the Holy Spirit and so upon awaking, redirected his efforts and quietly cared for Mary and Jesus.
Both Mary and Joseph awaited the coming of the Messiah just as so many of their kinsmen, yet neither could believe the part they were asked to play in being the parents of the Son of God. Once they were clear of the plan that God had for them they faithfully assumed their responsibility.
There are so many anonymous people within and without of the Church who are just like Mary and Joseph. They quietly and diligently go about their daily lives as pencils in God’s hands. They are not only open to hearing the word and direction of the Word of God, but they follow through with their actions to put into practice what they have received. They may not even be aware of the profound effect that their choices have had on others.
Time and again, throughout the Bible, we see God calling those who are not necessarily worthy, but humble and willing to play the part they were given in salvation history. Each one of us is invited to play our part as well. If we are stating or complaining about a particular issue and inquiring why God does not intercede and correct a certain situation, what he may be doing is convicting our conscience. The injustice that tugs at our heartstrings could be just the invitation that the Holy Spirit is giving us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world today.
Mary and Joseph waited with great expectation for the Messiah, they would play a central role in helping the Savior not only to be born but to have the support and guidance to be who God had called him to be. Yes, Jesus remained fully divine in his incarnation, but he was fully human as well. If it were not for the care, guidance, and support of Mary and Joseph, things could have gone badly for Jesus and for all of us.
May we have the same heart and mind conformed to the movement of the Holy Spirit as Mary and Joseph. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the saints have paved the path of salvation to follow. We are invited to follow and play our part by committing daily to small acts of great love as well.
Photo: Stain glass of the Holy Family at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA.