Friday of the Third Week

Readings

JER 23:5-8

MT 1:18-25

Reflection

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew we hear about the story leading up to Jesus’ birth from the perspective of Joseph. Joseph has a dream to take in Mary and care for the Messiah about to be born…. I remember growing up listening to this Gospel and wishing that God could appear in my dreams and tell me what to do as the Angel appears to Joseph. I realize that as I’ve grown older, if someone tells me what to do, say, a well-meaning loved one, most of the time I want to do the opposite (ah the power of reverse psychology!). Thankfully God doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t order us around or tell us what to do. God invites us and waits for our response. 

So now when I read this Gospel, the question I ask myself is: If God called me, would I answer God’s call? Or would I have some sort of resistance? I remember when God was initially calling me to religious life. I laughed, shook my head, and said to myself, no way, not for me, buh-bye. Yet the more I thought about it, prayed about it, and reflected on my life and what I desired - the more I came to see the seed that God had planted within me all along. My resistance (and fear) melted away and I grew more excited about the life that God was inviting me to even if all the questions weren’t answered. Just as in Joseph’s dream, God said, “Do not be afraid.”

As I reflect on his story, Joseph’s choice is not so simplistic as an angel appearing to him. He was a dreamer. He was waiting, like Mary, to hear what God was calling him to do, how to make meaning from his life. Joseph cared for Mary and Jesus in a quiet and humble way. He allowed the circumstances that he was given to be transformed even if it meant taking a risk and going against what society was telling him to do. There was an inward turning towards God. 

So it is with us – God calls us in our own lives and we have it in ourselves to discern our response. Sometimes we need a wake-up call, like a dream, to get us started. Yet the choice is completely up to us. So in this day and age when there is so much need in the world - what is our dream?  

Our dreams give us hope. Our dreams and greatest desire align with God’s dream for us. We who are waiting in Advent are dreamers of a better world. This advent season let us dare to dream. Let us be reminded of our dreams for ourselves, our country, and for the world and let us choose to respond. 

Sr. Maria Dela Paz, OSF 
Program Coordinator, Center for Student Success
Resident Minister, University Ministry
University of San Diego