In today’s homily, Bishop Emeritus Ignatius Wang talked about patience.
You know how, when someone gives you a vital piece of information, just a bit too late? A couple weeks ago, I got busy, and forgot to tell my wife about a financial transaction I made. I didn’t tell her right away, and later, when I thought about it, it was the wrong time. Eventually, a week later, it came out, and she was, understandably, upset. It happens all the time-deadlines get missed at work, and when you sit down with your boss, you don’t have a good explanation, but if you had told him you couldn’t meet the deadline earlier, it would have been ok. Or, you’re in traffic in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and your navigator says “Turn”. Too late, you miss the street and have to backtrack. It happens all the time. ALL THE TIME.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Do you think Joseph reacted wrongly? He wanted to quietly divorce Mary. I’m pretty sure that, before this reaction, he was a little more than upset. How could this woman he knew to be holy be pregnant? She’s married to me? Here’s the thing-sometimes we don’t get a warning that something’s going to happen. It’s either that it’s the wrong moment, or the reaction to the event might go wrong. In Joseph’s case, the human thing to do would have been wrong-Mary could have been stoned to death. As it was, when he thought about it, he decided to divorce her quietly. But he listened to the angel Gabriel, who was able to explain it in a way that Joseph knew what he should do. And did.
So next time you want to get upset because someone didn’t give you a heads up before it happens, think of St. Joseph. Getting the news in a dream that his betrothed was with child. Take a little time before you react.