March 20: Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Between one day and the next, Joseph’s world turns upside down. One day he is betrothed to a virgin in the town of Nazareth. The next, he is betrothed to a woman found to be pregnant with a child not his. The only explanation is infidelity. The news leaves a righteous man’s clearly regulated world standing on its head, and he with it. All he can do is choose between disgracing Mary in public, possibly at the price of her death, and divorcing her privately, perhaps for exile with relatives far away. Neither choice offers anything but misery for Joseph, but he chooses the private divorce to protect her.
Then, between one day and the next, Joseph’s world turns upside down again. One day, he is betrothed to a woman pregnant but with a child not his, faced with two painful ways to end their relationship. The next, he is betrothed to a woman pregnant with a child conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. The angel’s news leaves a righteous but compassionate man’s clearly regulated world standing on its head, and he with it. Once again he has to choose: take Mary into his home as his fully accepted wife, as the angel commanded? Or dismiss the dream as wishful hallucination and divorce her anyway? Neither choice offers him much comfort. He chooses the first because he believes God has asked it, although no one has explained it, or could.
Between one day and the next, Joseph has no time for prolonged reflection and no clear guidelines to aid discernment. It doesn’t matter. For Joseph there has always been one choice only. In this, he and Mary are of one mind and heart: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Here is the very essence of Lent in a single sentence.
When presented with a choice for which God provides no reasonable explanations, what have you done in the past? What was the outcome? What will you do next time?
St. Joseph, man of few words but God’s, teach us to listen deeply for God’s will and obey.
From Not By Bread Alone 2017: Daily Reflections for Lent 2017, by Genevieve Glen (Liturgical Press). Visit www.litpress.org for more information.