4th Sunday of Advent
December 22, 2019
We are all familiar with the story: an angel appears to the Virgin Mary, requesting her permission to receive the Son of God within her. It is indeed the most awesome moment of human history. Mary is troubled by the greeting of the angel. She quickly ponders some of the implications of what she has just heard. She’s going to have a child and the child will be the son of God. Perhaps, as she pondered, Mary asked questions like this: “What about Joseph? Who will tell Joseph? What will I say to Joseph? Will he believe me?”
I find it intriguing that the angel Gabriel does not immediately go to Joseph to explain the situation after Mary says yes. And yet, God apparently waits until a full-blown crisis has developed, doesn't he? It would have been so much easier on both of them if he had just come to Joseph right after Mary said yes. Why did he wait? In fact, why was it only after she was found to be with child that God intervenes in this troubling situation, when Joseph is driven to the point of planning divorce papers for Mary! It seems so unnecessary when God could’ve dealt with this right away – and yet he didn’t.
To me, the real question in this very interesting detail is: why does God wait so long to answer some prayers? He does, in fact, sometimes seem to wait until a real crisis has occurred before he acts. We see this same pattern happening over and over again in the Gospels and in our own lives too.
God could have made it easier for St. Joseph, but he didn’t. Therefore, he must’ve had a good reason for waiting to make his will clear to St. Joseph. Sometimes, we, too, wonder why God doesn’t make things clear right away. After all, God has all the answers – why doesn’t he share them with us? Well, he has shared the most important answers – that we are to always trust in God, that we are to strive to do God’s will, that we are to believe in him no matter what happens.
The stories in Scripture are the stories of our lives as well. How often God has a plan for us like he did for Mary and Joseph, but we have to struggle to see it. Our journey of faith glorifies God. Sometimes we forget that the whole point of being on earth is that we can’t see God right away, that we have to grow in faith and discernment by struggling with the issues in our lives. This is exactly what Joseph did before God revealed things. The struggle was part of Joseph’s journey too, just as it is with ours.