Awakening to the will of the Father
The Gospel Reading for this Fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on Joseph learning of Mary’s pregnancy and being visited by the Angel of the Lord in a dream to direct him to not dismiss Mary, but to take her as his wife and her child as his own. Although we’re told at the end of the Gospel Reading that Joseph awakens in full acceptance of God's will for him, it’s easy for us to wonder: how did Joseph really feel? After all, Joseph is spoken of in the New Testament, but isn’t actually recorded as speaking for himself in any part of Scripture.
And so, what we know of the adoptive, earthly father of Jesus comes from what others have written about him and about the actions he took as the leader of the Holy Family. Matthew tells us outright that Joseph was a righteous man, and we can glean from this Gospel Reading that prior to the Angel’s visit, Joseph had a great sense of compassion. He still held Mary in high enough regard to not dismiss her publicly and expose her to shame. It certainly would have been easy enough for him to do so, and well within his right - but Joseph's desire to uphold Mary's dignity provided a window of opportunity for the Angel of the Lord to come to him.
From this one passage - essentially our introduction to him in Scripture - we see in Joseph an example of how we are called by God to hear His word, know His will, and act upon it in our lives. As Advent draws to a close and Jesus, our Emmanuel, draws ever closer to us, let us keep in mind that the faith, hope, and love of both Mary and Joseph played a vital role bridging the gap between God and humanity.
If we make windows of opportunity for the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts by also striving to lead lives of faith, hope, and love, we too can discern the role we are meant to play in building up the Kingdom.