I could give you my whole homily from yesterday, but it is way more than 300 words and it doesn’t break into pieces very well. But a couple of pieces will be helpful for us both.
The gospel text was the story of Joseph as told by Matthew.
Joseph and Mary are engaged, an exclusive relationship. Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant. Perhaps while she is with her relative Elizabeth, word comes first by gossip, then by reliable sources. And his life, and hers, and theirs, is stuck.
There was the story that Joseph wanted and the story that Joseph got. It happens all the time to us as well. We want health, we have cancer. We want that relationship, we get this one. We want that Instagram story, we get this backed-up sewer with a house full of company.
But then there is the story that God is telling.
An angel came to Joseph in a dream. Where angels usually say, “don’t be afraid,” this angel said “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” God went straight to Joseph’s heart, addressing the paralysis between what he felt about himself, Mary, God, his family, her family, the community. And then God went on: “The baby is from the Holy Spirit, is a boy, will be named Jesus and will save his people from their sins. “
None of which, of course, Joseph understood, I’m guessing. Not in theological depth nor in prophetic pedigree. What he understood, and acted on, was that an angel speaking for God said, “It’s okay to love her. Blame me.”
I’m guessing that often, in the middle of the story we want dissolving into the story we get, God is inviting us into another story. Not an easy one, mind you. The story of Joseph and Mary and Jesus included every kind of insecurity we can imagine.
But that story offers us hope beyond our dreams. And it’s possible that there are stories we can’t yet see waiting for us to not be afraid.