A Wing and a Prayer: Dec. 18, Fourth Sunday of Advent

"Rembrandt Dream of Joseph" (1645) photo: Wikimedia Commons

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” ~ Matt. 1.20

What is God asking of me? This is one of the central questions we ask during the time we spend in prayer, as we listen for the voice of God in our lives. But often, God’s plan is underway well before we understand it; human comprehension lags well behind divine implementation! That is, something happens in our lives that we struggle with, and failing to see the hand of God at work, we resist it.

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“I’m not going to pick up stakes and move elsewhere for a new job, dragging my family with me,” we declare. “How can my daughter love him?” we cry. We complain, “Why is this teacher (or boss—fill in the blank as appropriate!) so demanding?” We miss the fact that change, however painful, brings growth, or that sometimes we are called to love people outside our frame of reference, or that a demanding superior brings out the best in us. Sometimes, like Joseph, confronted today with the shame of his fiancée’s unanticipated pregnancy, we take matters into our own hands. Joseph planned to solve the “problem” of Mary by quietly divorcing her. 

RELATED: Read all of our Advent reflections for 2016

That is not what God was asking of him, however, and God used an angel and a dream to convey his plan to this anxious, fearful man. The angel did not explain every detail of what was to come, but placed Joseph’s marriage to Mary in the context of God’s saving work, and asked Joseph to trust that work. So God operates in our lives, too, leading us in directions we do not always understand, and asking us to trust his guiding hand as he assigns to each of us our role in the story of salvation.

Loving God, Shepherd me beyond my doubts and fears to take up the work you have assigned me. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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