The fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… instructions to follow to the tee.
Think about it! What if Joseph said to himself, I don’t need to listen to the angel, after all it is but a dream. But here is a man who had already experienced an angel in a dream once before. He was told then, as he is told now in a dream, to simply follow instructions. Joseph saw the first message of the angel come true. He was to take Mary home to be his wife and she was to bear a son who would save his people from their sins. Now just a few days later Joseph is revisited in a dream and asked to follow a new set of instructions.
Most of us live life on our terms. God wants us to live life according to his terms. Our life is a gift from God; it belongs to him and when he so desires, he can, as he does, demand it back. This does not mean that we are puppets, for God also gives a value based frame work in which we live our lives and in which we choose to respond to his call. At the heart of that framework is our acknowledgment of him as the source of all life.
St Joseph understood his calling. He understood what God wanted of him and he understood the demands of obedience and fidelity. But he also learnt that God spoke to him in a unique way; God’s messages were delivered to him in a dream by an angel. He had learnt to listen to the voice of God over the buzz of human voices. His closeness to his maker gave him that edge to recognize God’s voice when directed to him. Think about it, how does God speak to you?
Joseph, who had surrendered his life to God, now surrendered ever task demanded of him. He had come to trust God’s will for him and it is this trust that made him wake up Mary and flee with the child by night. What a long night that must have been for he had to flee from a despotic King for whom murder was second nature. Into that dark night of fear and uncertainty, Joseph stepped out in faith with the light of the world wrapped in swaddling clothes. He was a father fiercely protecting his new born son and the wife that God had entrusted to him.
On the fourth day of Christmas, our true love, God, teaches us to trust him, to follow his commands, to tune our ear to his instructions, to step into darkness. God has a plan and he wants us to cooperate with him. He does not twist our arm, but if we are in tune with him then discerning his will is easy-peasy.
Joseph listened to God and Jesus was saved from the clutches of death. Yet that day many innocent children died. We may ask, why did not God step in? As I said before, God does not treat us like puppets; free will is ours to act upon. We can choose to do good or choose to do evil. Herod used his position and power to bring death and destruction all because he was insecure. Imagine, insecurity led to a massacre.