“If You Have to Ask”

Someone once suggested that St. Joseph might well be named the patron saint of forcibly changed plans. There’s no question, we could use such a patron saint. Often enough, our carefully laid plans are wiped out by forces beyond our control, and new situations are created that we never expected. We make plans but perhaps illness, job loss, natural disaster or some other disaster block the fulfillment of what we have planned. Joseph chose a lovely young girl of their town as his bride-to-be, but before he was to marry her he learned she was pregnant. He concluded that given this new situation he had better alter his plans: he decided to divorce Mary quietly. Then God spoke to him in a dream, and he changed his plans again. He would wed Mary.

Undoubtedly Joseph had planned well for Mary’s comfort when the birth of the child would come due in Nazareth. But the Roman emperor changed all that with his decree establishing the census. That meant Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary were to journey to Bethlehem. There, when it was time for Mary to give birth, Joseph had to be satisfied with a cave used for sheltering animals as the birthing room for his wife. Before it was time for the family’s return trip to Nazareth, God warned him about the designs Herod had on the child, so instead of returning home, he fled to Egypt where he and his family stayed for several years.

God is the God of surprises. Often enough He leads us into situations that we never could have foreseen. Happy the person who, when God springs a surprise on him, doesn’t panic but moves smoothly along with the word of the Lord.

St. Joseph, patron of people on whom God springs surprises patron of
those whom He leads into surprising situations, pray for us.

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