As we begin the last week of Advent wandering and draw near to Christmas, I have found it helpful to focus on Joseph, who is entirely silent in Scripture. Just as Mary pondered on the transforming events in her life, Joseph must have as well.
The reflection in The Word Among Us for today focused on the verse, "They shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23), which the angel spoke to Joseph in his dream, reassuring him that he should take Mary as his wife.
The fact that God was with them physically, in her unborn child, must have given him consolation and courage. He was a humble carpenter who probably never expected to become the guardian of the Messiah, yet God was there, in their presence, in a tangible way to reassure them as their own long wanderings took them to Bethlehem and later to Egypt.
Finally, as a devout Jew who was raised constantly to hope for the coming of the Messiah, he must have been overwhelmed with joy. The Messiah was here at last, unexpected in these circumstances, to be born not in a palace but in whatever place they might find shelter when they arrived in the overcrowded city of David. The way was difficult and total trust was demanded of this simple tradesman, yet God had given his eternal son as a baby boy to this couple whom he had chosen from the beginning of time. God was with them as an unborn baby on the road to Bethlehem, and a newborn with them fleeing to Egypt.
As I ponder the all-powerful God's appearance among us as a helpless and vulnerable child, I wonder how often I have missed God with us because I haven't expected him in his current disguise.
May I spend this week preparing to be surprised.