Here is this morning’s sermon. When I looked up the readings my first thought was, “These have been used so often, every year, what can I say about any of them?” But then I immediately thought of the significance of Joseph’s acceptance of the angel’s message and his response to it. The phrase came to me, “Joseph listened and acted” and I went on from there to develop it. –
David Allen, SSJE
As we come closer to the Holy Season of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, the Gospel Readings at the Eucharist help to prepare us for that event.
Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary, had become aware that Mary was with child. Being a righteous man, he wanted to avoid Mary becoming a public disgrace. He was planning to dismiss her quietly. But as he slept an angel of the Lord spoke to him in a dream. That was no ordinary dream. Joseph realized that it was not.
Joseph listened to the angel. He could have ignored the angel’s message asa strange, but ordinary dream. But he listened to it and acted on it. Joseph believed what the angel had told him. He heard the message of the angel, and acted on it. (Cf. James 1:22-25)
When Joseph awoke he did as the angel had commanded him. He took Mary as his wife. (Mt. 2:24) Joseph’s acceptance of God’s word given to him by the angel provided the child Jesus with a full family life; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
As we read on in Matthew’s Gospel we find that Joseph was given messages in dreams two more times.
The first of these was just after the visit of the three wise men. The angel told Joseph to take the child and his mother, Mary, and flee to Egypt to escape the anger of Herod, King of Judaea. (Mt. 2:13-15)
They remained in Egypt until King Herod died. The angel once again appeared to Joseph to let them know that it was safe to return. The angel advised them to go to the land of Israel. There they were directed to make their home in the town of Nazareth, in the district of Galilee. (Mt.2:19-23) Joseph heard these messages and acted.
Sometimes when someone has been faced with a difficult decision, after praying about it the answer may come in a dream.
I think some of you may have experienced this. I have. Listen to what God tells you in such a dream. Remember Joseph’s example. Listen. Pray about it for strength and guidance. Then act on it!
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