December 29, 2019
Sunday of the Holy Family, Year A
Last Sunday, the last of Advent, we meditated on the figure of Joseph. We saw how he went through a dramatic moment and how he then came to take up fatherhood of the child that the Holy Spirit had generated in Mary’s womb, thanks to the help of the intervention of an angel of the Lord,
What it meant to take on this responsibility, then, is something that Joseph understands and learns slowly: it is the events of life that give shape to this bond, and today we see just how Joseph assumes the consequences of having given his life for Jesus.
That is the first element on which we dwell: the faith of Joseph, in fact, did not end when he gave his assent, but, on the contrary, from there began a journey in which only faith would have it guided, a path in which, at every step, he would be called to trust anew. And that is the wealth and beauty of life.
Along this path, Joseph enters with a certainty: as we said last Sunday, Joseph was able to have a foundational experience, that of God looking out for us, takes care. In the moment of his inner drama, of his personal suffering, God visited him; and Joseph made himself available, in his sleep, to divine intervention, welcomed the help of the Lord. He experienced that God can be trusted, that He does not abandon.
This same experience returns when the life of Jesus is threatened.
King Herod, once he realized that the Magi had not obeyed him and had left without informing him, became furious, and decided to kill all the children of Bethlehem (Mt 2:16).
And again, an angel appears in a dream to Joseph to warn him of the danger. The angel intervenes because life is threatened: life must bear fruit, must reach maturity, and for this reason, it must be preserved. Joseph is called to protect the life of Jesus, but faced with this task, he is weak, impotent. He is facing none other than King Herod, and it is evident that the confrontation sees him losing at the start.
Here again, then, is sleep and a dream. Often the decisive moments of the relationship between God and man are marked by sleep: just think of the first sleep, that of Adam, in which God was able to draw Eve from his rib. Or the torpor that descends on Abraham, when God makes His covenant with him.
The dream is that moment in life when persons let go of themselves, they trust. It is that moment in which, precisely because they let go of themselves, God can take them beyond their capacity. He can entrust them with an important task, often decisive so that the path of the covenant can continue.
In sleep, the angel gives Joseph precise directions (Mt 2:13) and asks for total obedience. And Giuseppe trusts, lets himself be led, obeys.
Matthew, the evangelist, says that Joseph, as soon as he awoke, “got up” (Mt 2:14). It is also interesting to note that after the angel’s visit, Mary too gets up (Lk 1:39) and leaves quickly.
Whoever listens, whoever obeys, has nothing else to do than this: get up.
Get up, and then set off, and the path is that of obedience, through which salvation passes.
Listened to, the Word moves a person’s steps, becomes a lamp that accompanies and illuminates the road, because night remains outside (Mt 2:14), and danger is imminent.
Other dreams will come to visit Joseph’s nights, and again they will indicate paths and goals; and each time, Joseph will get up and set out (Mt 2:19-22).
Also, from him, Jesus will learn precisely this meek obedience, this humble way of walking enlightened by the Word of God Who gives life and guards it.