‘The birth of Jesus the Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.’
‘But just when he had resolved to do this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”’
‘All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the Prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.’
Following St Joseph’s Example
After Joseph’s encounter with the Angel of the Lord, he awoke to find himself at a crossroads. There were two roads he could take, and choosing the right one was a decision of great significance to not only to him, but to the whole of mankind.
The first road would have seen him dismiss Mary and go on with his life. He would have done this with kindness and compassion, as the gospel says – Joseph “being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.”
The second road, the one that Joseph chose, would see him take Mary as his wife, and in doing so – play a critical role in bringing Jesus into the world.
If he had taken the first road – the smoother road – his life might have been much easier and much more comfortable. He wouldn’t have been faced with the difficult conversations and the judgement of those around him, probably including those closest to him. He wouldn’t have had to take the gruelling journey with Mary to Bethlehem, and soon after, had to flee to Egypt to escape death by King Herod.
But Joseph took the second road. He said yes to God, and yes to God’s plan for his life – to faithfully and courageously bring Jesus into the world, and in doing so – ensure our salvation.
Today – we are faced with the same choice. Our choice may appear quite different – God is not asking us to bring Jesus into the world in the same physical way as he asked Mary and Joseph to do, and we may not face quite the same social stigma, and the threat of death like Joseph and Mary did, but we are called none the less to play our part in bringing Jesus into the world.
We are called to follow Him and to be like Him in the way we live our lives, so that anyone we encounter will see Jesus in us. And we are called to bring Jesus into the worlds of those around us, by sharing our faith with our friends, family members and neighbours, by inviting them into our lives and into our faith.
Which road will you take?
Will you take the first road – the smoother road that will avoid the difficult conversations and the risk of judgement? The easy road that will allow you to go on living a comfortable life?
Or will you take the second road – the road of sharing your faith and bringing Jesus into the world? Maybe you’d like to take the second road, but you feel like you’re not quite ready, or that you don’t have the words, or that you don’t know the bible well enough…
Imagine if St Joseph had felt that way!
Sharing our faith and inviting others into our life of faith doesn’t need to be difficult, and doesn’t need a deep knowledge of the bible or the ability to preach the gospel in earnest. Often, the most effective way is to simply say “come and see”. Come and see how my faith is working in my life, come and see why I go to church and encounter the Lord there. Come and see how I meet friends and build community in the Gather Cafe. Come and see how I find meaning in my life by attending Alpha. Simply – “come and see”.
And unlike Mary and Joseph who only had each other – here at Holy Family we have our community of faith and we are here to help each other to live our faith fully and live our mission together to love God, love others and make disciples.
Over Christmas time, we encourage you to think about Mary and Joseph and how they said “YES” to God’s plan for their lives. Then as you gather together with family and friends, and as you encounter people in your daily lives – think about how the faith that God placed in your heart could come into that space, and into that conversation, and how with a casual invitation, or a little story of how your faith is active in your life – you could literally bring Jesus into the life of someone you know, and into their world.
In the month of January, we are inviting everyone who feels they would like to take the second road – the road of sharing our faith and bringing Jesus into the world – to join together and support each other to grow in our confidence and our willingness to say yes to God’s call to invite other to share in our faith.
We will support you with information and resources that will be available to everyone. We will try to inspire you in our homilies and in messages in the parish bulletin and on our website. We are also inviting you to come together to join us for the “Life Shared Small Group Series”. Three 90 minute sessions, beginning on Tuesday 7th January, will encourage and equip us share our lives and our faith with those in our lives.
Find out more at holyfamilywhitby.ca/lifeshared
Which road will you take?