Advent meditation: Dreaming with St. Joseph
Pray along with this meditation inspired by Matthew 1:18-24.
You speak to us in dreams. Sometimes it is the only occasion you find us still and quiet. Quiet enough to hear your voice. Still enough to grab our attention.
You whisper to us throughout the day, reminding us you are present and that you delight in us. But we cannot hear you.
So you come to us in our sleep, the liminal space between this world and the one where your glory dwells. Is this why sometimes it is only rest that will comfort us? When we have run our bodies and our minds ragged until we collapse? In sleep, we find ourselves in your arms. Wendell Berry said, “Sleep is the prayer the body prays.” Is this why sometimes our first waking thoughts are prayer? Connecting the two worlds together?
You spoke to Joseph through a dream. Betrothed to Mary, he discovered she was pregnant. He knew he could not go through with the wedding, but he loved her and was kind. He decided to end it quietly.
He did not want to expose her shame. To do so, meant Mary would have been judged publicly — and then stoned. A frightening position to think of our dear mother in, the mother of our Lord. You spoke to Joseph through a dream. Just like his namesake so many years before, the one who’s dream raised him to the house of kings. Joseph, son of Jacob. Living in the house of Pharaoh, Joseph could save your people when famine ravaged the country and Israel was out of food.
Joseph knew you through his dreams and saw that the harm his brothers inflicted on him, you meant for good. He had come to his royal position for a time such as this, to save your people, your remnant, again.
But this Joseph, the carpenter, the one who would raise your Son here on earth, you spoke to him through an angel in a dream. The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home.” The child within her was conceived through the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who spoke through the prophets, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son.” The angel told Joseph that this child “will save his people from their sins” and “they shall name him Emmanuel.”
Emmanuel, “God is with us.” God came down from heaven to be with us. To remind us that you love us, that you delight in your children. That you want to be with us. You are with us in our dreams, in our breath and in the Eucharist that saves us from the famine that ravages our own hearts, keeping us from you.
And Joseph woke from his sleep, rested and sure of you. He did as you commanded and took Mary into his home. In his rest, he saw your truth, that they were placed in a lowly position for a time such as this. Joseph listened and was able to be part of your story for eternity.
As we ponder the mystery of Emmanuel, God with us, speak to us in our sleep, O Lord. May our bodies pray the prayers we cannot speak during the day.
May our restless souls rest in you. May we hear your words — and listen. May we be certain that you are here with us. Connect your worlds together in our sleep so that we may
Connect your worlds together in our sleep so that we may find you more clearly in our waking hours.
— Shemaiah Gonzalez, Catholic News Service
—Originally published in the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2019, issue of The Inland See.