Joseph Shows the Way for this Last Week of Advent

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.

About Joe Paprocki 2741 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

2 Comments on Joseph Shows the Way for this Last Week of Advent

  1. Joe,

    Thank you for the reflection on the presence of Mystery in our lives.

    This is where the arts enter in. The arts open up ways of expressing/apprehending the mysteries of human life and the Mysteries of our faith. Ours is a faith of symbols and sacraments — and mystery. Thank you for your openness to using and encouraging the arts in catechesis.

    As an artist, I have always struggled with the faith too often presented as limited to those “cognitive statements” and the need for getting “the right answers.” There is so much more — to us, to our lives, to our faith, to our God. And that’s why we need the “more” that we encounter in the arts.

    Even the arts, because they are the work of humans, are never enough to contain that “more” — but at least they can bring us into the realm of the mysterious, and open us to experience the Mystery.


    Not the sentimentally “pious” art of some of our church music or visual arts — that isn’t open enough, expansive enough, to allow for Mystery.

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