Sometimes, our head is telling us one thing but our heart and our gut are telling us something else. This past Sunday’s Gospel tells us that St. Joseph was experiencing this inner turmoil. His betrothed, Mary, is pregnant—and he’s not the father. According to Jewish Law, she should be stoned. At the very least, he decides to quietly divorce her; that would be the righteous thing to do. And yet, something within him continues to question this, interrupting his sleep. Righteousness and love are at war within Joseph.
In a dream—in the deepest part of human consciousness—Joseph learns that, for God, love trumps righteousness. God calls Joseph—and he calls us—to be open to mystery. Joseph does not understand what is happening with Mary, but he comes to trust the Mystery of God. And in doing so, he enters into and encounters the Paschal Mystery.
This is the message for us as we move through this last week of Advent and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We are called to be open to mystery. Too often, we reduce the faith to a set of cognitive statements to be learned (and taught) intellectually. In contrast, Christmas is about mystery, the mystery of God becoming one of us so that we might be drawn closer to him. This is not a mystery to be solved, but encountered and entered into.
This Christmas, my prayer is that we open ourselves up to the mystery of God who is love, allowing ourselves to be drawn more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, our Savior.