A Letter from Madonna House

Journeying through Advent with Joseph

Carol Ann Gieske

Write about Advent?  What could possibly be interesting that our readers haven’t read many times before? 

In Madonna House I experience Advent as the liturgically rich but oh so busy time before Christmas! Then my imagination kicked in….write about St. Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem…. perhaps my attitude about Advent could be a bit different…at least in my heart.  Let’s look at each of the Advent Sundays for a clue about Joseph.

On the first Sunday we read that Jesus said to his disciples, “Stay awake! You never know when the time will come” Mk 13:33. But Joseph was asleep, exhausted with the conundrum of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy.  Isn’t he like us when we are faced with circumstances of life that mystify and worry us?  He prayed, he made a decision as charitably as possible and then trusted in the righteousness of God.  We too are called to trust, especially when God’s plan or purpose is hidden from us.

The Second Sunday: “Prepare a way for the Lord” Mk 1:2.  Joseph became one who fulfils the prophet’s message. He accepted his new vocation to prepare for and protect the long awaited messiah, whom he now knew to be Mary’s Son.  He was prompt in responding—he made a home for Mary and her soon to be born son.  Sometimes I question: “If I look out for myself even if my action hurts another—is that really wrong?”  I can inwardly fret rather than seeking help because I don’t want to appear inadequate or weak.  In accepting Mary in her pregnant condition, Joseph also accepted bearing the inevitable slurs on his reputation.

The Third Sunday: “God has called you and he will not fail you” 1Thes 5:24. That long walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a difficult journey!  Yet Joseph must have trusted in God’s providence. When faced with a difficult task, what is it that makes the difference between peaceful acceptance, or resistance with anxiety and resentment?  We might think Joseph and Mary had ‘inside” knowledge of how the future would unfold.  The Gospel indicates otherwise: “They did not understand what he (Jesus) said to them” when they found him in the temple Lk 2:50.  Too often I forget to call upon the grace of the sacraments I have received:  faith at baptism, the infilling of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, and assurance of God’s mercy in Confession. The sacramental graces are real, but we need to activate them through prayer.

The Fourth Sunday:  The angel gave Joseph the same message given to Mary: “She will have a son and you are to name him Jesus” Mt 1:21.  Jesus, true God and yet, a helpless baby! Holding the newborn Infant must have been a decisive moment for Joseph. Jesus NEEDED Joseph’s love, his fatherly protection and guidance.  Joseph was indeed chosen for an essential role in the fulfilment of God’s plan to bring humanity back to our original condition,created in the image and likeness of God.

Genesis 1:26  God wants our love as well.

By Carol Ann Gieske

Previous Months Letters from Madonna House

October 2023: Ordinary Miracles By Mathieu Dacquay

November 2023: The Saints Are Alive By Jeanne Guillemette