“and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.” –Mt 1:18-25
I had many plans this year. I think we all did. Plans to travel, to be better physically, mentally, to be a better daughter, a loving friend…plans to be more present, be a better volunteer, to serve better, to pray more, to truly live out my faith, to move up, whatever up is, to really stick to the plans this year…what plans?
Joseph had plans, to be a good husband, to have a companion, enjoy her company, learn how to be a husband, a provider, do well in the business, be looked upon with high praise, to be a father to many children, as many as the lord provides…and here he is….scared and confused and wondering….what plans?! The woman chosen to be my wife is pregnant… I have to divorce her, but I don’t want to bring her shame, I don’t want shame upon me…I must do it quietly…no one can know, no one will understand…my plans….dust. Moreover, God sent his angel, his messenger, “Do not be afraid…”
How can he not be afraid, how can we? With all we have experienced, seen, heard, and been confronted with this year. How can we not be afraid? Through a global pandemic, through a changing of economic circumstances, through an increase awareness of death, because of Covid-19, because of racial violence, we are experiencing an increase in awareness of racial trauma, isolation, emotional trauma, mental illness, loss, pain, loneliness, hunger, anxiety, fake news, fear mongering…how can we not be afraid?
Little did Joseph know that he would have to leave what he had built, what he thought was good enough, to become a refugee, flee to Egypt with a very pregnant Mary, entrusted with the son of God, and provide food and shelter in an unknown place, and be a protagonist in the plan of salvation. Rewind and read that again….what plan? God’s plan. Queue the Drake song…sorry had to! God challenged us this year in the same way he challenges us every day to live out the truth of the gospel. Never was there a year it was so hard.
I did not find refuge in what I knew…I found refuge in the angels that God sent me. God destroyed what I thought were safe places and comfort zones to bring out real peace and progress.
That peace came in an invitation from a friend I was not so close with, to pray the novena to Saint Katherine Drexel; peace came in the invitation to grow deeply in Catholic Social Teaching, it came in an invitation to intercede for our world in a praise and worship zoom call on a day my heartbroken and I most needed it, the world needed it, it came in the call to serve my family as we continue to struggle to support one of our own through a battle with depression.
Peace came in an invitation to intercede for others, to grow closer to a friend also experiencing isolation and loneliness; it came in the call of supporting my father through his Covid-19 illness. Peace came in supporting a friend through a battle with a tumor, through a friend’s continued struggle to find meaningful employment, through a book club with four amazing Catholic women. Peace came in opportunities to grow deeper into relationship and to take deep fresh air outside. Peace came….(FILL THIS IN FOR YOURSELF RIGHT HERE)! Whatever God has taken away, he has given and will continue to give greater than what WE can imagine.
WHAT PLANS? The obsessive planner in me is freaked out. The Christian in me, is Lord, your plan not mine.
God has greater plans for us then we can dare to dream or imagine. He did not lead us to this point to abandon us. our God is here where you are he is present, EMMANUEL!
In the comfort that you receive and the comfort you must give, in the joy of a smile, that you receive and that you must give. In the help, you receive and you must give, in the faith you must witness and you must show, in the love that you receive and you must show. God is present in the prayers you receive and the prayers you must lift up. Someone entrusts you to the Lord, and you entrust them to God.
It’s ok to be afraid. God will remind you, “Do not be afraid.” Hear his angels, there is a good solid plan that you cannot even imagine. Do not despair, do not lose hope! EMMANUEL!!!! That’s a plan we were not expecting, or could imagine! If you are lonely reach out, if you are struggling call a friend, if you are overwhelmed by attention call that friend who could use more people in their life, if you are bored by your comfort, call that friend who struggles! God has angels and saints all around, he will put us, them, you, to good use. Pray with me, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”- Prayer of Saint Francis
Señor, gracias por el aire que respiro, por este día, por esta Noche Buena, y cada hora que nos regalas. For your angels Lord. Continue to strengthen our hearts, to do your will, serve in your plan and teach us to love and be loved. Thank you for the awesome gift of your incarnation that we eagerly await this night. Te rogamos Señor, por nuestro Señor Jesucristo, tu hijo, que vive y reina contigo en la unidad del Espíritu Santo, y es Dios por los siglos de los siglos. Amen!
San José de Nazaret, pray for us!