We are just a few days shy of Christmas day. Christmas brings a lot of joy, happiness and celebrations. As we bask in the euphoria of Christmas celebration, the Church wants us to acknowledge two of the key players that cooperated with God to bring about Christmas, namely Joseph and Mary.

Joseph’s case is like that of a man who had worked hard over the years, and saved a lot of money, but just as the time came for him to enjoy his savings, someone else comes and takes it from him. Imagine yourself in Joseph’s shoes. You are now engaged to this lady you have always longed for. You have disciplined yourself, respected her and lived a chaste life just waiting for your wedding day. Then, just a few days before the long awaited, you find out that your bride is pregnant, and that you are “innocent” of the pregnancy. The explanation that the Holy Spirit was responsible for the pregnancy is one that many still struggle with; you can imagine how it was for Joseph. Even if he accepted that, he could have wondered, “But why my own Mary?” Joseph must be commended for protecting Mary even before the angel spoke to him in a dream.

It was not an easy task for Mary either. Imagine how ridiculous it must have sounded then to claim that she was a pregnant virgin. If after two thousand years, many still struggle with it, come to think of how more difficult it was the first time it was claimed. You know how much effort we put in, to convince those around us when they doubt us; but Mary only put her trust in God and pondered all in her heart.

It is easy to praise God when things are rosy, but it is a different ball game entirely when things are rough. In the Book of Daniel 3, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were threatened with fire should they refuse to worship idols, they said something very commendable. To the king they said, “If our God… is able to save us…he will save us; and even if he does not, we will not serve…the statue you have erected.” (verses 17 and 18). When eventually they were thrown into the furnace, they were safe while praising God in the fire. The King was amazed at what he saw. He also observed that three men were thrown into the fire, but four men were seen walking freely in the fire; and the fourth looked like a son of God (cf Verses 24ff). There lies the secret; the presence of God makes all the difference.

Mary and Joseph faced their challenges, but with God on their side, it is now a song of victory. What you are going through now may not make any sense at the moment, but in the future, you will come to see why it happened so. In case you are newly engaged, I am not promising you that you will become pregnant just by the power of the Holy Spirit; and I am not saying that stepping into fire will not hurt you. Each person’s story is different, each one of us is a special book that God is still writing; trust that God’s will is better than yours. Hold on to your faith even when things are not going as planned. Remember that when one door closes, a better one opens, but we are sometimes so focused on the closed door that we are unable to see the opened door. Scripture says, “[A]ll things work together for good to them that love God.” Do not give up on your dreams for “Whom God has blessed, no man can curse.” The responsorial psalm for today urges us to give the King of Glory the chance to come in. The truth of the matter is that, God is with us, but the question is, Are we with God?

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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