As we continue reflecting on the first week of Advent, we are laying the foundation for the second week. This Advent, I have been using a program called REJOICE! Advent Meditations with the Holy Family by Fr. Mark Toups. Sunday we prayed for the word available; on Monday, we focused on depth; Tuesday on standard; Friday on help; and Saturday on dependence.
This second week we see how Mary was loved by Joseph and how she knew his great love for her. Mary’s heart was pure which means that there was no foreign or inappropriate elements in her love for God. Mary was human and thus tempted, but Joseph protected her from temptations and remaining faithful to God. He was her protector.
What was in Mary’s heart during that first Advent? I am sure that the time she spent carrying Jesus was much different from what she expected. From the very beginning, her life had been planned differently. She was to remain a virgin before her betrothal to Joseph and so she never expected to conceive a child let alone it being the Son of God! Through this all, Mary has taught us to bring all things to God. How else would we be able to handle those things that happen to us unexpectedly? The Advent season is a challenging time to pray with all the distractions of Christmas surrounding us. How can we stay focused during this time and continue to bring all things to God in prayer?
Going back to Joseph, he provided a safe place for Mary to carry out God’s plan. Joseph’s emotional and spiritual maturity helped him to be present to Mary allowing her to feel safe and therefore seen and heard. Regardless of our vocation, we are called to be a safe place for others, living in the present moment, allowing them to feel seen and heard. Matthew 5:3-12 gives us examples on how we can be safe places for others.
When we have a safe place as Mary did, then we adjust to what happens in our life. Mary did not live in a bubble, and Nazareth was a small town. I am sure she heard the whispers as she approached the well or harsh words of judgment about her. Have you experienced hearing people talk about you or naming your faults so that you begin to doubt yourself? Times like those are when we need to have that special person who will listen to us and lead us to the goodness within created by God. We need to be a safe place and we need a safe place to go. Joseph provided all of this for Mary. Who do you go to, to encourage you? Check out Ps 116, what is it saying to you?
Joseph truly loved Mary and his heart was full of natural desires for happiness, relationship and spousal communion. He was not ruled by his desires, instead his desires were tempered and well ordered. Joseph desired God above everything in their live together. Joseph teaches us that the key to happiness in life is not the lack of desire but its proper ordering.
There is a lot to digest here as we see how Joseph truly loved Mary. He was her protector, a safe place where she was seen and heard, spoke the truth to her at all times and in all circumstances. He shared his desires in an ordered fashion. All of this happened in the area we call humanity. It is half way through Advent. Where do you find yourself in relationship with God? What are your desires?
Till next week,