In today’s Gospel, we hear of the time when Joseph learns of Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph knows that the baby is not his, and according to Jewish law, he must divorce Mary. Mary would face the consequences of adultery, including shame and possibly even death. However, being a righteous Jew, Joseph also understands the need to temper law with mercy. He instead decides to allow Mary back into his home and marry her anyway. Joseph goes beyond the ordinary with deep understanding and wisdom.
Each year, when we write down this date we might know a wide range of emotions from excitement to anxiety. There is less than ten days until Christmas and we still might have some shopping and decorating to do. There might also well be a sense that our spiritual preparation for Christmas has not been all that we had desired when Advent began. This is a busy time of year and we might feel ourselves pulled in different directions by competing expectations on our time and energy. As the 3rd week of Advent begins, we are not allowed the luxury of more time because, since Christmas falls on Monday this year, this is the shortest Advent season possible. Technically, the 4th week of Advent is only 24 hours long this year.
As I sit here reflecting on the reading for today, my mind cannot help but look back on this year. Look back and realizing how lucky I am to be in this faith community, but also that even though it has been a very hard one, it also unknowingly been a year of growth spiritually.
One afternoon, I was walking on a forgettable road, distracted by the many tasks occupying my mind. I walked along the black asphalt and paid no attention to my surroundings. Pausing for a moment, I looked down and saw a green plant. As I stared at the plant, I felt the Holy Spirit tug at my heart, much like a child tugging on the sleeve of a parent’s arm.