|The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
Yesterday the gospel reading centered upon Joseph's dilemma, to wit: he had found that his young betrothed was with child, and in this confusing mess there was only one thing of which he could be certain, and that was that he's had nothing at all to do with it.
Scripture says Joseph was an honorable man, and so decided to divorce Mary quietly. In other words, he would not publically denounce her and perhaps force her family into killing her or worse.
For women, yes, there is worse.
But then the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him with whom Mary was pregnant, and the role this baby was to play in human events. The angel assured Joseph that indeed, Mary had commited no betrayal, but in fact that she had acceded to the audacious request of the Most High.
Beyond that the details were probably pretty fuzzy.
So Joseph went to bed with a dilemma, and woke up to a miraculous mess, as Fr. Larry characterized it. How many men would pop out of bed like Joseph, look themselves in the mirror, and say, “Whoa! This is going to be an interesting ride!”?
Most would just see their world and plans crumbling about them. But Joseph seems to have been a peculiarly unflappable man, who was from the House of David, late of the shoot of Jesse. He was familiar with the passage in which all this was foretold.
And I guess if an angel takes the trouble to visit you, it's hard not to pay attention to what he says.
Fr. Larry says Joseph is a prime example of what to do when you find yourself in a mess: invite God to join you in it.
Fr. Larry's right. When our Kelly was born a baby was the last thing we needed in our lives. We were struggling, trying to finish Jerry's degree, caring for our two fragile aging mothers and struggling with college bills. Life was good, but it was full to overflowing, and when I found out I was pregnant things went way over the top.
When Kelly was born with Down syndrome, we felt as though our world had completely collapsed.
When the hospital told us it looked like she had neonatal leukemia we realized the thing we wanted most in the world was for her to live.
In those dark days before her blood chemistry began to resolve, we invited God in to be a part of our mess. With that Guidestar before us, things began to sort themselves out. I prayed the Lord's prayer 50 times a day some days.
We'd felt like we were in one of those kids' games of long ago–the little picture disc with holes for the 5 BBs that you have to tilt and tap to get each BB in a hole. At first all the BBs whirled wildly around the inside of the disc, but first one, and then another, settled into its hole, and before long we settled back into being a family.
Same sick moms, same college bills, same demanding jobs, plus a fat baby girl with the world's best smile, who needed therapy three days a week.
But that was OK.
Jerry had said the night Kelly was born, “Well, now we find out who we are as a family.”
And so we had.
photo courtesy: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/255.html