Dreams can be powerful things. Our gospel reading today is about God’s dream for Joseph and Mary, and how Joseph brought that dream to fulfillment.
Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant and that the child in her womb was not his. Strictly speaking, according to Mosaic Law, she could be stoned for this seeming infidelity. Joseph was in a real and agonizing bind. He, “a righteous man,” wanted to follow the law, but in his sensitivity and concern for Mary, he could not bring himself to do her any harm. What a time of inner turmoil and outer confusion and chaos it must have been for both Joseph and Mary…and then God communicated to them through Joseph’s dream.
In the dream Joseph finds his identity and calling. Joseph dares to believe that God can and has revealed to him a new and awesome wonder. Rather than dwell in dreamland and leave the action to someone else, Joseph himself acts. Mercy and righteousness meet in Joseph. He takes Mary as his wife. And it is God’s dream that Joseph lived out.
Yes, dreams can be powerful things. We too are called to live God’s dreams for ourselves and loved ones, for our community and our world. The story of Joseph illustrates that dreams can change the course of history, but only, only if we invest ourselves in their worth. It will be the same love and trust as St. Joseph’s that compels us toward risk, fearlessness, and good works. As we celebrate this Fourth Sunday of Advent may we follow Joseph’s example and the example of Mary and Jesus in doing what God asks of us. Like them may we listen, ponder, and act.