December 18, 2019
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's School of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 194

Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalms 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
Matthew 1:18-25

Today's Advent Prayer

Praying Advent Home Page

Pope Francis: On St. Joseph in today's reading.

The Annunciation

Contemplating with Joseph

So often during Advent, I think about Mary and how amazing she was – her faith, her courage, her unwavering belief.  It is also incredible as to what she had to endure throughout her life.  However, when I read today’s gospel I started thinking a lot about Joseph and what a remarkable man he really was. 

When you realize the time in which Mary and Joseph lived and the rules and norms, it is quite remarkable for Joseph to act the way he did.  Imagine this honorable and good man who does not see his beloved betrothed for a while and then he sees her and she is obviously pregnant.  Of course he knows he is not the father, he has been totally respectful of her and never laid with her.  What must be going through his head – she has been untrue – his sweet Mary – untrue to him.  Even by today’s more liberal thinking, most would say, I’m done – I will let everyone know what this woman has done. In that day, a man could easily call the woman out as an adulteress and the punishment is clear: stoning! Yet Joseph somehow did not even consider that route.  He thought that he could go on and then quietly divorce Mary – he was concerned with her wellbeing even though it appeared that her behavior was less than acceptable.  Joseph was clearly an exceptionally kind, compassionate man.  We all know the story did not end there.

When Joseph receives the angel in a dream, he totally accepts that this is the word of God and is obedient to all that is asked of him.  He does not hesitate or falter.  This is what God expects of him and this is what he will do.  Oh, that I could always be so unwavering in my faith. Joseph never stopped to think of how that changed his plans for his life – he trusted in God’s plan for him and his family.  Mary and Joseph are such wonderful examples of those who trust without question.  Their faith sustained them throughout their lives.  They believed and allowed God’s will to direct their lives and when angels spoke, they listened. 

That brings me to my thoughts about angels.  I truly do believe that angels are here to protect and guide us.  I pray to my guardian angel every day.  My mother taught me that whenever I see an ambulance driving by, I should pray  -- I say the guardian angel prayer for whoever may be in there or whoever they are racing to get.  There is no doubt in my mind that angels intervene at the will of God to direct us in certain ways.  It does, however, require us to be open to them and to recognize the God Winks in our lives.  I also believe that there are people on this earth that are also angels.  No wings, no halos – just loving people who speak to us and reinforce how much we are loved.  As I currently deal with a health scare, I find myself surrounded by earthly angels.  Their prayers are palpable and sustain me – I am enveloped in love and hope.  One of my special friends (aren’t they all special!!), in addition to her prayers and loving support, has “connections.”  She is loved and well-respected where she worked and where I needed to make any appointment.  In her usual caring way, she asked if she could help me get an appointment.  Of course I said yes – she wrote an email to the director and within a couple of hours I had a personal phone call from the director telling me that I could be seen the next day.  These earthly angels may not be quite the same as those that appeared to Joseph and Mary, but there is no doubt in my mind (and heart) that they do exist and are here on divine missions to support and love.  They are here to remind us of how awesome and loving our God is.  They are here to remind us to keep our hearts open, to keep the faith, to trust, and to know that we are never alone.

And to celebrate this Advent season and always trusting even when we don’t know what will happen:
Mary Do You Know . . . . 

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