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Friends, today’s Gospel centers on one of the most beloved figures in Christian history: Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. He’s featured in countless works of art and is prominent in the devotional lives of many. Yet we know almost nothing about him. The scant verses here in Matthew offer the most extensive description, yet even they reveal some powerful spiritual themes.

First, we discover Mary was betrothed to Joseph and this union had been blessed by God. But then Joseph finds his betrothed is pregnant. Can you imagine the distress? This must have been an emotional maelstrom for him. And at a deeper level, it was a spiritual crisis. What did God want him to do?

But then an angel appears to him in a dream and tells him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” He realizes at that moment that these puzzling events are part of God’s much greater plan. What appears to be a disaster from his perspective is meaningful from God’s perspective.

Joseph was willing to cooperate with the divine plan, though he in no way knew its contours or deepest purpose. Like his wife, Mary, at the Annunciation, he trusted and let himself be led.