Righteousness is no guarantee of a smooth life.

When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 
~ Matthew 1:18-19

Last month I was at dinner with a young couple, the parents of three children. They are people of faith and integrity, family-oriented and morally true. Matthew might have called them “righteous,” the word he uses to describe Joseph. We got to talking about our kids, as parents do, and they confessed their fear that their sons and daughter (the oldest of whom is not yet a teenager) would one day suffer from addiction. Looking at them across the table I could not imagine that such misfortune would happen to these good people.


But as today’s Gospel suggests, righteousness is no guarantee of a smooth life. Joseph, a Jewish man who faithfully observed the precepts of Torah, finds himself in a shameful predicament. The woman with whom he has a binding marital contract is pregnant. By Jewish law, he has every right to terminate their contract, and determines to do so quietly. But God sends a night messenger with a counter-command. Joseph neither questions nor resists; rather, he does exactly “as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”

Even when we follow the rules and live as faithful Christians, sometimes things simply go wrong. We lose our job to a restructuring. A child encounters difficulty in school. Someone we love cannot break the cycle of addiction. But if we place ourselves in God’s hands, as Joseph did, these times of suffering can become times of trust. When our soul encounters a dark night, we need to listen carefully and deeply to God’s message, and put our confidence entirely in his word, holding onto the promise that he will be with us always, even to the end of the age.

Lord of Love, Lighten the darkness that surrounds me with the luminous power of your kindness and mercy, and help me to trust in you at all times. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

You can access the complete collection of the Advent 2015 Reflection Series here.

If you would like to receive these reflections via a daily e-mail, contact Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill at ecahill27@yahoo.com.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
William Rydberg
2 years 10 months ago
Still no word on the expectation around our Lord's long expected second coming. Plenty of references in the Liturgy in Advent and many in the scriptures and Tradition. After all the second coming is in the Catechism, the Creed, scriptures, etc... After 3 weeks, I was hoping for a mention of it...
William Rydberg
2 years 10 months ago
It's now past Dec 18th, the window on anything todo with the second coming is now closed, insofar as the Mass Prefaces are concerned. In my opinion, an opportunity lost. Merry Christmas!


The latest from america

Though the current synod appears to lack the sort of drama and high-stakes debates of the previous two, the role of conscience appears to be a common thread.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 16, 2018
When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the Olympic podium, their act drew widespread criticism. Now Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike.
Michael McKinleyOctober 16, 2018
Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, identified three “signs of the times”: secularization, the digital world and multiculturalism.
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 15, 2018
For years, the Polish church has been torn between supporting the government’s anti-migrant stance and adopting Pope Francis’ commitment to foreigners.
Melissa VidaOctober 15, 2018