Reflection by Tom Cummins, a parishioner
In the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the young Indian hotel owner has a favorite saying in times of uncertainty and confusion: “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end.”
I tend to feel the same way. At the close of each of my emails is a quote from a mystic, Julian of Norwich: “All will be well.” Living as an anchoress in 14th century Norwich, she had several mystical encounters with God through visions. During her time in the late 1300s, was The Great Schism in the church, a famine, the plague was sweeping through Europe, the Hundred Years War was raging, and those calling for church reform were burned as heretics. In short, Julian of Norwich was living in a time verging on complete hell. Yet she insisted that somehow in the mystery of God, “All will be well.”
Just imagine trying to tell that to Joseph in today’s gospel reading. He has learned that Mary is pregnant. There is no way that can be good. Since the two had not been together in an intimate fashion, she had to have been unfaithful. She would no longer be a virgin and must be turned away.
If you want to get an idea of what Mary would have been in for, read the law regarding betrothed virgins and sexual activity in Deuteronomy 22:23-27. Being stoned to death was more than a mere possibility. Pretty frightening! Joseph had to have been beside himself with fear and worry. Could he have had said, all will be well? Hardly. Could he have seen that everything would be all right in the end? Not from where he stood.
So, before Joseph really messed things up, an angel of the Lord was dispatched post-haste. The divine plan for the Word being made flesh was getting off to a rocky start. Everything needed to be explained to Joseph in a dream. The pregnancy was explained, and now he could assume the role he planned for - being a husband and father, a caregiver and protector.
As I reflect on this all too familiar story, I ask myself how well I do in times of confusion, worry, and fear. What do I do? Do I tend to assume the worst and proceed to turn things into a bigger disaster? Or do I prayerfully take a time-out to ask and listen for divine guidance? Do I try to wash my hands of any emerging problems, or do I stand in there and try to discern what is being asked of me?
Advent is a time to take stock of how we approach the trials of life. Is God a part of my trying to find the way? Do I look upon the baby Jesus and realize the Holy Family didn’t have a walk in the park either? This season is filled with divine messages. Let us pause and reflect … and trust in God that all will be well.
+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.