If you see the Virgin coming down the road, ask her into your house; she bears the Word of God.
St. John of the Cross
The great American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” There is something troubling about his words. There’s a sense of “have to” to someone who is looking for a place to belong. “Home” becomes a place of grudging acceptance since you have nowhere else to stay instead of being welcomed.
But what if home is a door wide open, with light pouring out on a dark night. Someone is standing by the entrance peering into the darkness, searching and waiting for a person sought for. Once that individual comes near, he or she is embraced and welcomed. “We’ve been waiting for you! Everyone is inside and they want to see you! Welcome home! Welcome to the place where you belong and are wanted.” That is the difference between a building and home; a group of people “that have to take you in” and a family where you are loved and wanted.
The last Sunday gospel of Advent is about an annunciation to Joseph. He had opened his life and home to God and His Law. Joseph has lived in true relationship with the living God and allowed His words to touch and mold his life making him “a righteous man.” He loves Mary and has plans for a wonderful life together as he prepares to welcome her into his home. Then she breaks the news of being pregnant, which brutally ends his dreams and plans for the future. The door begins to slowly close to those plans. In his pain, Joseph is committed to follow the Law and also protect Mary.
In a dream Joseph receives, through an angel, an annunciation from God that seeks to take away his plan of a quiet divorce of Mary. Put yourself in his place. Would you believe in a dream? Would a dream take away your fears and broken heart? Yet, for Joseph it does. Perhaps it’s because he has longed welcomed the word of God into his life. He has stood by an open door, waiting and searching for the Lord. Once spotted, Joseph welcomes Him letting Him know this is where you’re wanted and belong. That ongoing gesture and attitude does not make the fears and problems of life nonexistent. It does make them less powerful. Joseph is less willing to act upon what upsets him and more of what the messenger of God has to say. When he wakes, not only does he receive the Virgin into his home, but also the Word Mary carries within her.
Any season of the Church year is simply a reminder of how a believer is to live at all moments of life. So, Advent is a reminder to expect the arrival of Emmanuel by standing at a door, apart from useless activities and work. Advent calls for an increasing longing of the One who longs for us. It is a patient waiting in silence and prayers, not allowing anything or anyone block or lessen our desire for the Christ. Like Joseph, we are called to take the Virgin in our home for she carries the Christ within her. He is the One, the only One, who saves us from our sins and welcomes us into His eternal home.