Imagine, your life hinging on a dream. In truth, Joseph had three of them—each causing him to
make immediate, life-changing decisions. First the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is
from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people
from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20). Following the birth of Jesus, an angel of the Lord appears in a
dream and says: “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there
until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13)
And finally, some time later, Joseph has another dream in which an angel of the Lord
suddenly appears and says: “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land
of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life aredead.” (Matthew 2:19-20).
Each time, the Gospel tells us this: “Then Joseph got up….” And does what the Lord says.
I find it all to be a rather remarkable course of events. Not simply that Joseph
experienced the presence of the divine in dreams—but that he took action and did what
God commanded–immediately. I say this, because a good many of us (myself included), would
probably spend a good deal of time quibbling with God or dithering until the time to act had passed.
Life is filled with opportunities—some of them are extended over and over again—others
come our way only once, and our response is demanded without delay. Later in this issue of the
Tidings, you will read the legend of Befana, first told in Italy. In this story, Befana encounters the
Maji as they follow the star. They invite her to accompany them; however Befana is consumed
with her housework. They then inquire as to whether she would like to send a gift to the
Messiah; and again Befana demurs, focused as she is on cleaning her cupboards and finishing her
weaving. And as suddenly as it came, the opportunity is gone.
The lesson should not be lost on us that the opportunity to follow and serve Christ is always
found in the present moment—and, what’s more, it demands we make a choice. How do we
respond when the voice of the Lord speaks to us or when an offer to act on behalf of Christ comes
our way? Do we make time to forgive those who have wronged us, come to the need of those who
are beloved of the Lord: the hungry, cold, sick or lost; or simply make to sit at the feet of the Lord
and worship him in awe and wonder? Or, are we busy with other things.
As a new year begins, make a decision to take the present moment in hand, to respond to
the Lord, and—like Joseph and the Magi, follow where the will of God leads.
Yours in Christ,