Grace: To have an intimate knowledge of the Lord, to love him more devotedly, and to follow him more whole-heartedly.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 2:13-23
Reflection: Joseph should be the patron saint of all dreamers. He is not only warned in a dream not to abandon his pregnant wife-to-be; he is also warned three different times about the dangers that await him and his family after Jesus’s birth. Joseph is a model for Christians of what it means to discern the movements of the spirit, and his shepherding of his wife and the still infant Christ during this time are a testament to the extent to which God provides for those He loves.
During the nativity we have the examples of the shepherds: the first to arrive at the side of the manger after following the star that they saw rise in the sky. These shepherds—accustomed to watching for changes in the weather and signs in the sky that might foretell coming dangers for their flock—were among the first to greet the newborn Christ, and this fortuitous meeting was surely the great reward of their faithful vigilance.
But the shepherds never had the life-and-death worries that Joseph experienced within the first few weeks and months of his new stepson’s life. Though a carpenter, Joseph knows to pay attention to his dreams in a way that is similar and yet superior to the vigilance of the shepherds. His watchfulness is not one of following the movements of stars in the sky but of discerning the movements of his own heart. In his dreams, he becomes aware of how God is speaking to him, providing for this Son who will redeem the world.
God does not only speak to Joseph in this way, and the will of God can be known even to modern Christians in the present day if they pay attention to the movements of their own hearts. The blessed watchfulness that participated in the protection of the vulnerable Christ is available to us as we watch over those who are weak and vulnerable in our own world. God desires that we, too, watch for his coming and safeguard his holy will, and like the shepherds, such watchfulness will surely be rewarded with nothing less than the vision of God incarnate in a manger.
Questions: When have I heard the Lord speak to me in my heart? Where does this attentive listening to God lead me? Who are the weak and the vulnerable in my life? Who is most in need of God’s providential care? How can I adore the infant Christ in them?