Quit Arguing


Quit Arguing

Full disclosure: sometimes I have a really hard time relating to Mary and Joseph.

That may be alarming for you to hear. You might even find it a bit irreverent. (Or, who knows? Maybe you’re relieved to hear someone else say what you’ve secretly been thinking, yourself.)

But it’s true.

Let’s be honest. The fact that they were the earthly parents of Jesus means they’re well out of my league to begin with. Oddly enough, I can live with that part. God picked them and not me for a reason – they’d have been infinitely better at raising the Son of God than I ever would have been. (I’m pretty sure that neither Mary nor Joseph would have let Jesus eat Cheetos that he found under the fridge.)

But it’s the stuff leading up to the birth of Jesus that I struggle with most. We know the story: when the angel shows up and tells Mary that she’s going to bear God’s Son, she asks one question, and immediately answers, “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

In this Sunday’s gospel (Mt 1:18-24), Joseph responds in much the same way when the same sort of thing happens to him. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, and tells him that the baby his fiancée is carrying is from the Holy Spirit, and that he really should take Mary as his wife after all. And then Matthew tells us that “When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him.”

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

“Here. God’s got a job for you.”


And cut to next scene.

This is where it becomes clear to me that, Cheetos notwithstanding, I wouldn’t have been on the parental shortlist. Because God knows I’d have argued. Lots. I’d have pointed out that the timing wasn’t right. I’d have asked if there was an easier way to do it. I’d have complained that it was too hard. I’d have declared the plan unrealistic. I’d have insisted that if I had to do it, it was going to be done my way. (And I’d have 100% groused at the angel for interrupting a perfectly good sleep to tell me something that could have waited until morning.)

And I know that because I do it all the time.

Every time it appears that God has some sort of plan in mind for me, I throw a bunch of excuses up, complain that’s really rather inconvenient, sulk if it’s not what I had in mind, and sometimes just flat-out refuse. And this is why I often have a hard time relating to Mary and Joseph: they both immediately said ‘yes’.

I often find myself wondering how they did it. No arguing. No quibbling. No excuses. Was it really that simple? Did the gospel writer leave out six paragraphs’ worth of anxiety? Was a three-hour conversation edited out?  What it was that made their yeses so easy?

I wrestle with this angel all the time. And maybe that’s precisely the problem. I’m so busy dodging, ducking, kicking, and arguing that I don’t actually hear the part of the plan where the angel tells me, “God is with you.”


God is with us.

Emmanuel means we don’t have to do it alone. It’s our in our nature to want to be certain about things. We want to know unequivocally that things will work out. We all want a sense that God is with us in some way. But sometimes we forget that if God has a plan, God is here to help with it. God is here to be part of it. God is with us. And I think that’s it… that’s how Mary and Joseph said yes. They trusted that if God was going to lead them to it, God would also be with them through it.

The deep and abiding message of salvation history is that if we pause long enough, if we stop arguing with the angel long enough to take a look around and a look within, we will find that God is with us. And when we truly are aware of it, when we truly trust that God is with us, it makes the yeses a little easier.

Mary said yes.

Joseph said yes.

As our Advent journey brings us ever closer to Bethlehem, may we find it a little easier to relate to Mary and Joseph, as the angel’s reminder of “Emmanuel” gives us the courage to say ‘yes’, too.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)

By Darcie Lich
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
(306) 220-0527