By Kristin Molitor
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid… “ ~ Matthew 1:20a
I often wonder what the days were like in St. Joseph’s wood shop following the news of Mary’s pregnancy. The unexpected turn of events would have caused great distress in Joseph’s heart, causing him to anxiously pray about what to do next.
As Joseph worked and prayed, he concluded that the best option moving forward was to give up what he treasured most: his beloved bride.
The reasons for Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary are unclear to us. Still, our Catholic tradition proposes a few interpretations to explain why Joseph resolved to end his betrothal to Mary. One theory holds that Joseph suspected Mary of adultery, while another other theory suggests that Joseph knew the miraculous cause of Mary’s pregnancy and therefore considered himself unworthy to be a part of the Lord’s work.
Regardless of the reasons behind his decision, the thought of ending his relationship with Mary would have been unbearable for Joseph, and one can only imagine the number of tears that were wiped from his holy face as he worked and prayed.
Joseph’s tender heart had to grieve the life he thought he would have. His broken heart had to weep, lament, wrestle, and surrender.
Do not be afraid; God has a Plan
As Joseph prepared to say goodbye to the love of his life, God was preparing Joseph’s heart to receive more love in his life than Joseph could have ever imagined.
God knew Joseph’s heart. Joseph wasn’t “just a man”; he was a just man, a righteous man, a man whose heart was steeped in the Scriptures and receptive to God’s word. Joseph’s heart was capable of receiving the Word Made Flesh. God had a greater plan, and Joseph trusted that plan.
Joseph could have let his grief harden his tender heart. He could have made inner vows never to love again, never trust again, and never be vulnerable again. He could have closed his heart and locked himself in his woodshop, busying himself with his work for the rest of his life.
This would have been the safer option. But Joseph’s heart was created to expand, not retreat. His heart was destined for greatness, fashioned to receive Love Himself.
From Grief to Grace
Joseph trusted God with his pain. He allowed his grief to birth a more extraordinary grace, mission, and love. When the Angel appeared, Joseph did not shrink back in fear. He took the risk and opened his heart wide, giving his ‘yes’ with a generous faith. Joseph gave God permission to act in big and bold, and beautiful ways.
God had so much he wanted to give to St. Joseph. God entrusted Joseph with the hearts He treasured most. God created Joseph for love so expansive that his fatherhood would encompass every child in whom Christ dwells.
May St. Joseph teach us that we don’t need to be afraid of life’s unexpected turns. May we remember that, like St. Joseph, we too can trust God with our pain and believe that our grief will birth a more extraordinary grace.
Heavenly Father, help me to trust you with my pain. Please help me to remember that you have a greater plan for my life. Give me the courage to keep my heart open to love.
Call to Action
Ask God to reveal to you an area of your heart that He is inviting you to surrender so you can receive Love to the fullest this Christmas.
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Beautiful reflection. Growing in love for St. Joseph and the Holy Family has played such a key part in my spiritual life in being able to accept the grace of trust from God.
Beautiful – I love the image of Joseph working in his shop and praying – and the tears in his eyes. Really beautiful!