Feast of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Luke 2:41-51a
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. Matthew 1:20
The other day, I was watching a news story about a well known athlete who came back home and visited the high school where he was a star player. His message was very simple: follow your dreams! You can be whoever you want to be, just don’t give up on your dreams. Every famous person seems to give the same advice.
It sounds so simple: just follow your dreams! Yet the dreams we had when we were young may now be long gone. Some may look back with great regret and ask ourselves, why didn’t we follow our dreams? Our lives would have been so different if we had just followed our dreams.
Dreams are all about the choices we can make for our future. St. Joseph, whose feast day we celebrate today, was a man who allowed his dreams to guide him. He dreamed about making a life with Mary as his wife. In fact, they were engaged, according to the Gospel account we have for today’s Mass. He was about to live out his dream. He was about to take Mary as his wife and to welcome her into his home.
That dream was shattered when he found out that Mary was pregnant. Then he went about doing the right and compassionate thing, divorcing her quietly. But then he had another dream, a dream that called him to go beyond appearances, beyond his understanding of the "law." It was a dream inspired by God. He was to accept Mary into her home. He did so. And this was not the last dream that Joseph would have. Dreams inspired by God led him and the Holy Family into a future that they were not expecting to live. Just because our original dreams aren’t realized does not mean we need to stop believing in them.
Our Christian Faith calls us to keep on dreaming, even when our dreams are not realized. Joseph could have become disappointed, depressed and vindictive when he was not able to live out his original dream. How do we handle a shattered dream? How open are we to God and the new directions that God leads us towards when things do not go according to our plans, to our dreams? Do we turn to God? Do we follow the example of St. Joseph? Or do we allow our human weakness get the better of us?
This feast day comes when the whole Church is celebrating Lent. Lent gives us just the right opportunity to think about the life of St. Joseph, to really invite him into our lives and allow him to guide us when things become difficult for us.
Thank you, St. Joseph, for following your dreams! Help us to follow ours!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.