Greetings my brothers and sisters,
A very blessed season of Advent to all of you! One of the difficult and seemingly impossible tasks each
year around this time is to not anticipate the celebration of Christmas before we have prepared
ourselves during the time of Advent. This is necessary because, if we do not prepare well, then the
celebration of the birth of Our Savior, Jesus, has the potential of being just a time of “good cheer” with
little substance. The coming of Jesus is a life-changing, universe-altering event! The entire course of
human history was changed with the birth of that baby in the manger in Bethlehem. We will not
appreciate this great importance if our celebration is reduced to an exchange of presents and a big
Coming to our aid, as always, is our patron and protector, St. Joseph! After Mary, Joseph was the first to
be informed of the coming birth of the Savior and what he needed to do to prepare for this. Seeing how
Joseph reacted and acted to this great news can help us to prepare ourselves well for the celebration of
the birth of Jesus and continue to gives us further insight in our vocation discernment.
The first thing we can notice from the Gospel passage which speaks of the annunciation to Joseph (Matt.
1: 18-25) is that the angel comes to him at a rather inopportune time. Joseph has been informed that his
wife, Mary, is pregnant and he is uncertain what he is supposed to do in the light of this revelation. Shall
he continue with Mary as his wife or divorce her quietly? He makes a decision to separate himself from
her and the mystery of God which is unfolding. At that point, then, the angel comes to him in a dream
and tells him that God wants him to stay with Mary and take her in his home as his wife. Why the wait?!
Why did not the angel come before he made his decision? Here is the first thing Joseph can share with
us to help us prepare: being open to God however and whenever he comes. This takes humility and
availability, not to have things to “set in stone” in my life. Am I open to things taking a different turn
than expected? This is often how Jesus chooses to come into my life and to call me. Joseph, help us to
be open and willing.
Next, Joseph takes Mary into his home. We need to take Mary into our hearts! We have an excellent
opportunity to do this in a special and liturgical way during the Advent season. We have the universal
celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. Many people around the world prepare for
this celebration with a nine day novena. Consider doing that, by reciting a decade of the rosary each
day, focusing on one of the Joyful Mysteries, beginning November 29. Here in the Americas, we also
have the celebration on December 12 of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here to, many prepare with a nine day
novena, even though there is some overlap with the previous novena. This is no problem since both
involve our Blessed Mother! Perhaps here, along with the decade of the rosary, we can add a special
prayer for the protection and growth of the Church in the Americas. Invite Mary into your home in some
way this Advent season…after all, she is carrying the Savior of the world in her womb! Joseph, help us to
take Mary into our hearts.
Finally, Joseph, upon the birth of the child, names him Jesus, as the angel had directed him. The best
way to spend the season of Advent is to take such direction ourselves. Naturally, vocation discernment
also means taking direction. This comes to us through the reading of God’s word, participation in the
celebration of the mass (maybe even daily?) and in other activities in our parish. Perhaps your parish has
some special celebrations for Advent. Can you take this direction and participate? Joseph, help us to
take direction from the Most High.
Fr. Brian, OSJ