Be very careful of your dreams! Do you dream? Yes, of course you do, we all have dreams, even if you don’t remember them. Dreams of course are not just falling asleep and waking up and saying, you know what I just dreamt? I dreamt that Santa Claus left me a new car for Christmas. Dreams are also hopes, beliefs. I dream of a world where there will be peace and love.
We all have dreams, both types of dreams. We dream while we sleep and we have dreams of a better world. In today’s Gospel, this last week before Christmas it says that Joseph had a dream. “The Lord appeared to him in a dream, ‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
It is interesting this focus on Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel, I usually think about Luke and his emphasis on Mary. We think about Mary’s role in the incarnation; her yes to the Angel. And even though we esteem Joseph, he is a Saint of the Church he is relegated to the role of stepfather. We figure that if Joseph would have said no, they could have found someone else, or Mary could have gone it alone. So why is Joseph so important?
Joseph like Mary said yes. He believed in his dream. It says that when he awoke he did as the angel commanded him to do. Joseph, this very human person, this father who wasn’t the natural father said yes. He had a role to play in the history of salvation. Because he said yes Mary had a husband; Jesus had a father; they all had a home. Salvation history went forward.
Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation, the word made flesh and making it’s dwelling here within us. The saying is right, put Christ in Christmas. That is what is all about. But as Joseph teaches us, it isn’t just about standing by and watching it happen. It isn’t just about adoring the Christ Child. It is about making Jesus present in the world today. The angel said to Joseph, “his name is Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” So the incarnation happens, Jesus is made present when we are saved from our sin; from the sin of the world.
Christmas is a great time for shopping. It is a make or break time for shop owners. It can also be a time of greed. I want this for Christmas! It doesn’t matter if I need it, if doesn’t matter if I already have six other colors of it. It doesn’t matter if others don’t have any. Christmas can be a time of greed, in giving and getting. We can say no, we can be more thoughtful in our giving. We can be more simple in our requests. We can say no to greed, we can be saved from Sin.
The message of Angel was “peace on earth” we know all about the wars in the world. The pope has endlessly called for the end to war in Syria. There are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe we can’t do much about it, but we know of wars right here. Our nation is so divided: division between the races, division between the sexes, and division between the classes. We can bring peace just by reaching out to someone who is different than we are. It can begin by holding the door as we go into Target, or greeting someone here in Church who is different than we are. We can bring peace in our homes. Living close with others there is bound to be differences, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. What do we do when this happen? We can be people of peace in our homes. Admitting we are wrong and asking for forgiveness, when others hurt us and ask for forgiveness we can accept their apology. We can bring peace on earth.
Yes, Joseph was a simple man. A carpenter who worked with his hands like many of us do. The angel appeared to him and he believed; he took Mary into his home. We can follow his example. We can further the mystery of the incarnation. We can make Jesus present in the world by believing in our dreams just like Joseph did. When we believe in our Angels, Jesus once again breaks into the world. The incarnation happens and Christmas happens once again.