Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid. 

Joseph’s dreams for a happy marriage and family appeared to be fading fast. A faithful Jew and “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19), he knew Jewish law required him to uphold the sanctity of marriage, which appeared to be violated by Mary’s pregnancy. But he also wanted to protect Mary. So he chose to obey the law but still avoid a public inquiry. It seemed like a merciful plan, a righteous and holy plan. But God’s plan was better.

To redirect Joseph, God sent an angel to make his intention clear. “Do not be afraid to take Mary [as] your wife” (Matthew 1:20). Surely Joseph’s mind was racing. God even promised that this child would be no ordinary man. Beyond Joseph’s hopes and dreams, Mary’s son would be the Messiah, the One to save his people from their sins. There was no need to fear. God was still working—and more than Joseph had imagined. Joseph just needed to hold fast to God’s promise and step out into the unknown.

Like Joseph, many of us have hopes and aspirations for the future. For those of us who are parents, these hopes include hopes for our children’s futures. We love them and make plans and sacrifices so that they can grow up to accomplish great things—perhaps even greater things than we have achieved. But sometimes things don’t go as we had hoped. And like Joseph, we have to resort to “Plan B.”

Whether or not we are parents, we know the disappointment or confusion when God’s ways turn out to be different from our own. But just as God blessed and guided Joseph, he will guide and protect us. God sees the entire arc of our lives, from before we were conceived until eternity. He alone knows how our situations fit into his bigger plan to bless us and to bless future generations. And he is with us, even in the unclear times, even in the suffering. We may not receive an angelic message, but we can trust in God’s goodness and listen for his voice saying, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 1:20).

“Father, I let go of my plans and trust in you. St. Joseph, pray for me!”

2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Matthew 1:16,18-21,24


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