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Theotokos: Sunday of the 3rd Week of Advent
“she was found with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18)
Unlike our Western tradition, betrothal was more than simple engagement. According to the Ignatius Study Bible Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, “Betrothal was a temporary period (up to one year) between the covenant of marriage itself and the time when spouses lived together.”
Joseph and Mary have already entered into the covenant of marriage. During this betrothal period Joseph was preparing their home and preparing for Mary to move in. While Mary was readying herself in Judah, Joseph was in Galilee preparing for her return. However, her return brought more than he was prepared for. When Joseph found his bride “she was found with child.”
Imagine the look on Joseph’s face when he first saw Mary “showing.” Imagine his shock to the explanation that it was “through the Holy Spirit.” Likewise, imagine Mary and her emotions to Joseph’s response. None of this was going according to plan. Joseph didn’t plan for what Mary told him. Mary didn’t plan on it either, nor did she plan for his shock and surprise. However, God knew what He was up to. God is quite content with His plans.
Each of us has our plans. Each of us has our idea or dream or image of how we want our life to unfold. However, our plans seldom unfold according to how we think they should. In fact, often times when we evaluate our lives, we realize that life is different from what we expected—our plans rarely come to be. Whether or not your life has unfolded according to your plans, trust that God knows His plans. After all, Mary didn’t plan for the Angel to come. Joseph didn’t plan for Mary to be “found with child.” None of this was in their plans. But, aren’t we glad that God had His plans?
For your prayer
Mary and Joseph would have prayed with the Book of Jeremiah. Prep your imaginative prayer by slowly reading Jeremiah 29:11-14. Use your spiritual senses and imaginatively pray with Mary and Joseph in Matthew 1:18.
“Father, I ask for the grace today to taste your love for me and my life. I beg you to help me trust you and to trust your plans for my life.”
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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2015