4th Sunday of Advent – Dec 20th – JOSEPH, BE NOT AFRAID!
The sound of the breaking glass came from the kitchen as the children were playing in the family room. Joseph, a nine-year-old boy, asked his younger sister Mary: “Do you know who broke the glass?” “No,” Mary answered. “I bet it must be mom,” Joseph said. “How do you know that?” questioned Mary. “Because,” Joseph said, “If it was Daddy, you would hear mommy yelling by now!”
Was that what happen to Joseph in today’s Gospel? Poor Joseph! Contrary to Mary being “full of Grace,” Joseph was full of fear:
– Fear of what others would think when a normal sized baby was born five or six months after the marriage.
– Fear of who Mary really was. After all, she was a young girl and pregnant by someone else.
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– Fear of being not religious. What if he got caught protecting Mary and was accused of joining her in violation of the Law of Moses; or maybe he was afraid that he could not love this child as every child has a right to be loved. It was not his child. How could he love the child as a father? We hear this reading about Joseph’s concerns over and over, but we forget that on the human level, Joseph must have thought, “What a mess this is! And what a greater mess it will be if I complete this marriage and take Mary as my wife.”
Fear has been a part of human life since the fall of Adam. But we need to learn from Joseph to trust in God as he gives us the very same words the angel gave to Joseph: “Do not be afraid.” Joseph trusts God, for the child is special and so is his mother. There is no other man in her life. It was the Holy Spirit! God would figure out how to deal with the gossip, how to deal with the Law of Moses about the sin of adultery, how to deal with Joseph’s concerns for the child. God would give him the ability to love the child as a father.
Aren’t we sometimes in the same situation as Joseph? There are times when family matters are not exactly what we intended. There are times of arguments; times of frustration; times of unhappy moments; times of mistrust; times of misunderstanding; times of distress; Especially during this time of Christmas, when shopping needs to be done, meals need to be prepared, the house needs to be cleaned and travel arrangements need to be made – Stressful and fearful isn’t it?
If your wife or your husband thinks that you are always wrong, don’t worry! Joseph has been there. Just a few days ago, December 8, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! So I told people, poor Joseph, if anything went wrong in the house it must be his fault! Since there are only three in the family and we know that Jesus and Mary are sinless.
So, brothers and sisters, “Be not afraid and do not fear!” Christmas is not a time for fear. It is a time for love. We have to trust God to develop the love within us, even to those who have hurt us. Please don’t ask, “Whose fault was it?” But continue to remain in love and to give love throughout this Christmas season. Some of us will have to associate with someone we have had words with or bad feelings during the last year. This could be a neighbor, a relative or even a member of the inner circle of our family. We might worry, if we are kind to that person, will we once more be spat upon? Will we be hurt again? We have no reason to fear. Allow me to paraphrase the Angel’s word “Do not be afraid all Josephs and Josephines.” We have been called to love. We have been shown how to love through Joseph. Now, it is our turn to express that love!
Fr. Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong