MATTHEW 1: 18-24
DECEMBER 19, 2010
I moved from the Bronx in New York City, to White Plains, in the suburbs. I was 12 and going into the 7th grade. For me the transition was not that difficult. I had not yet bonded all that deeply with guys in the Bronx. I was able to make new friends in school. But my big sister Maureen was 16 and going into her junior year in high school. That is a very difficult time for a girl to leave a life in which she has some sense of control and knows how she fits into the social fabric. Maureen could have resisted the whole transition by becoming very negative and isolated.
Years later, after she died and went to purgatory...Oh you are shocked at her going to purgatory? Well, she was the big sister, mean and bossy. Does God not have standards? How low can we put the bar of entrance into heaven? Anyway, when she died and went to purgatory, her friends called me to share the sadness of her dying, and to tell me what a wonderful person Maureen was. All these friends who called or wrote were friends that Maureen had made after she moved to White Plains. She made the most of her life that she had not chosen.
Maureen reminds me of Joseph. He was doing well in his hometown of Nazareth. He took a wife when he was about the age of Maureen when we moved to White Plains. They married young in Joseph’s day. He had customers for his carpentry business. He had some control over his life. Suddenly, everything seemed to change without his permission. His wife was pregnant. He was not the dad. He could have gone the route of capital punishment, and had her stoned to death. So much for God’s plan for our salvation! He could have divorced her. But in a dream he was asked to do something that would change his life forever. He gave up control and then lots of inconveniences came into his life.
Joseph opened himself to new ways outside of the normal social rules. He let himself be guided in each difficulty that was presented to him. He had to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. Then he had to go off to Egypt. What did he know about Egypt? He had to make new friends, and find new customers, new routines in a strange land. Joseph could have sulked, resisted, punished Mary, or just had the attitude, “Nothing is right.” Joseph was open to new events and with this attitude he learned that God comes when we least expect it.
We are waiting for the coming of Jesus. Once a year, at Christmas, we focus on Jesus coming into our life. We have the four weeks of Advent to get our minds and hearts wrapped around this coming, so that we are not surprised when Christmas comes. Christmas generally is a good time of joy because we are ready for it. But God comes into our lives at many other times when we are not ready, times that are inconvenient for us, when we don’t have control. We might say at those times, “Where is God?” God is right here in the inconvenient, out of control, unexpected times in our lives. Pray to St. Joseph, and my big sister St. Maureen. God comes when we least expect God to come.