"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home." (Matthew 1:20)
There is an overarching theme in all the stories leading up to the birth of our Lord. Both Joseph and Mary are told, "Do not be afraid" by the angel. Joseph who was a just man did not want to expose Mary, his beloved, to shame. He feared that divorcing her publicly would cost her her life as prescribed by Jewish law. But the angel comes to dispel those fears. God is with them. God himself will dwell with them. In an instant, Joseph is cast as a central character in this drama authored by God himself as this poor and simple carpenter would become nothing less than the head of the Holy Family. Only the Provident Hand of God could write this story, and thankfully, Joseph, like his wife, accepts this unique call. Like all husbands to be, he probably had his plans for Mary and himself, but God had more extraordinary plans for this just man from Nazareth as he does for you and me.
All around us simple, "ordinary" people are doing extraordinary things. Many parishioners will not rest this Christmas until every poor child has a toy and every poor family has a proper meal to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Many will take communion to the sick on Christmas Day. Others will visit prisons. Like Joseph and Mary, these are the unlikely heroes of Christmas. All Joseph and Mary did was say "yes." God took care of the rest. We have to entrust ourselves to Providence and totally trust in Him to accomplish his good work in us. We too are called to be unlikely heroes in God's marvelous plan. All we have to do is trust Him.
A couple of weeks ago, I was going over this Bible text with our pre-confirmation class and told our young people that just like Joseph and Mary, each and every one of us was placed by God on this earth to do something extraordinary. One of my more intelligent students made a face and disagreed with me stating that some people are called to be ordinary, regular people and nothing else. I was saddened by such a pessimistic view of life at such a young age but gently reminded her that even she was called by the Lord to do something that nobody else couldn't. Only Mary was called to be the Mother of God. Only Joseph was called to be the head of the Holy Family. As we rapidly approach Christmas, we stare at the child in the manger and know full well what he would grow up to be and do for all of us. Look inside your heart during these last days of Advent and ask the Lord what unlikely, extraordinary task he has in store for you. All you have to do is say yes...his grace will take care of the rest.