Posted December 10, 2014 in The Pope's Corner:
St. Joseph’s Advent

by Pope Francis.

In Matthew 1:1-18, the evangelist tells us about the events preceding the birth of Christ from Joseph’s point of view. The following is a reflection on Joseph and how he responded to what he could only have experienced as a shattering crisis.

Joseph and Mary were dwelling in Nazareth. They were not yet living together because they were not yet married.

Mary, after having welcomed the Angel’s announcement, came to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Joseph realized Mary was pregnant, he was bewildered.

The Gospel does not explain what his thoughts were, but it does tell us the essential: he sought to do the will of God and was ready for the most radical renunciation.

Rather than defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chose what for him was an enormous sacrifice…. Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her away, resolved to send her away quietly (1:19).


This brief sentence reveals a true inner drama if we think about the love Joseph had for Mary… . We need to meditate on these words in order to understand the great trial that Joseph had to endure….

It was a trial similar to the sacrifice of Abraham, when God asked him for his son Isaac (cf. Gen 22): to give up what was most precious [to him], the person he loved the most.

But as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervened: God found the faith he was looking for in Joseph, and he opened up a different path, a path of love and of happiness.

"Joseph," he says, "do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Mt 1:20)

This gospel passage reveals to us the greatness of St. Joseph’s heart and soul. He was following a good plan for his life, but God was reserving another plan for him, a greater mission.

Joseph was a man who always listened to the voice of God. He was deeply sensitive to the messages that came to him from the depths of his heart and from on high.

He did not persist in following his own plan for his life. And he did not allow bitterness to poison his soul. Rather he was ready to make himself available to the news that, in such a bewildering way, was being presented to him. …

Joseph thereby became ever freer and greater. By surrendering himself to God’s design for his life, Joseph fully found himself beyond himself.

His freedom to renounce even what was his, the possession of his very life, and his full interior availability to the will of God, challenge us and show us the way.

Let us make ourselves ready to celebrate Christmas by contemplating Mary and Joseph: Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself totally to the Word of God; Joseph, the faithful and just man, who chose to believe the Lord rather than listen to the voices of doubt and human pride.

Let us walk together with them toward Bethlehem.

Excerpted from an angelus talk on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22, 2013


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