It is December. Our homes are decorated by now, the tree is up, the lights are strung, presents are brightly wrapped. These are the tangible signs of Christmas. During this third Sunday of Advent, we rejoice. Happy Third Sunday of Advent.
Today is Gaudete Sunday which means rejoice! Besides lighting the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath, we celebrate that our hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ at Christmas is almost over. This beautiful liturgical color signifies joy. How has your year been? Are you still feeling the strains of the pandemic, or are you beginning to see your way to a new normal? Does your heart seek for peace and joy? Living in gratitude despite our circumstances helps us live a life in abundance. For me, I’m choosing joy!
As we get ready for the birth of love itself in Jesus Christ, let us take the necessary steps to prepare our hearts and minds. What if we bring out the creche or nativity scene and place it where it can be seen and, if the moment is right, contemplated? What if, in the Spirit of the season, the creche characters began to talk? What if they asked us questions to bring home our faith, to encourage us into gratitude and commitment? How would we answer?
I am Joseph.
You may have me kneeling with a staff,
my eyes unwaveringly downward on the child,
a portrait of commitment and readiness.
Or I might have my hands
on the reins of a donkey,
showing my willingness to journey
to keep mother and child safe.
Or I might be standing to the side,
indicating a supportive but secondary role.
I am hard to properly place.
Wherever you put me is fine.
I know what I have to do.
I am an inheritor of dreams.
My ancient namesake
saved his people from famine
by interpreting in the day
the communications of the night.
I do the same.
My heart stays awake while my body sleeps.
I listen while the sounds of the earth are silent.
The angels of dreams only whisper commands.
“Take Mary for your wife.”
“Take the mother and child and flee.”
“Take the mother and child and return.”
My obedience has taught me
to see through scandal.
What grows in Mary
is the work of the Spirit –
fragile, vulnerable –
pursued by the sword.
Life needs protection
until life is ready to serve.
And I protect.
That is what you need to know about me
and what you need to know about yourself.
Perhaps in your crèche
you have a figure of me
with a staff that blossoms,
flowers sprouting from the top
of the long, lean stick.
It tells my truth best.
How does your strength serve love?
The perspective of Joseph was originally published on December 15, 2019, written by author and theologian John “Jack” Shea for Catholic Extension. Smitten With Goodness exists to shine a light on goodness. The presence of the Catholic Church is a guiding light in many places darkened by poverty and conflict. Catholic Extension uplifts faith communities and supports individuals who bring the light of Christ to the most forgotten areas of our country, and you can support their mission here.