During this Season of Advent, this time of preparation for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus, we reflect on the faith-filled story of Joseph. He was betrothed to Mary, yet before Joseph had welcomed her into his home to consummate their marriage, Mary was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although Mary had been visited by the Angel of God and had made an act of tremendous faith in her “yes” to bear the Christ, Joseph was left to struggle with the mysteries of these events.
We hear in the Gospel of Matthew that Joseph did not want to subject Mary to public humiliation and shame, so he was going to try to “divorce her quietly.” (NAB, MT 1:19) This reveals a lot about Joseph’s character. He was willing to do “the right thing” for what he thought would be best for Mary and her situation, not himself. He was willing to sacrifice his own ego and what was due to him by law, even when, by outward appearance, he would have been justified with public retribution.
Then, as we hear in what may be referred to as Joseph’s Annunciation, the Angel of God tells Joseph the plan: “Do not be afraid…. Take Mary your wife into your home…. It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (MT 1:20-21)
In an astonishing and incredible act of faith, Joseph consents, says “yes” to God, not in words, but in acting according to God’s will. Joseph’s fiat is silent, as he loves and cares for Mary and Jesus, as husband and father, from that time forward. There were no theatrics, parades, or public recognition for Joseph’s trust, faith, and obedience to God, but in his saintly ascent to God’s will, Joseph shows the power of action over words.
Lord, make me ever mindful that actions speak louder than words. In my struggles, in times of difficulties, in moments when things seem impossible and insurmountable, give me the silent courage of St. Joseph to trust you, to do your will, and to accept Mary and Jesus into my heart and home. May I always first seek what’s best for others even when life’s circumstances are at their worst. Give me your grace, and increase my faith in you. Amen.