This Advent, Bondings 2.0 invites you to take a spiritual journey through guided reflections on the readings of the season’s four Sundays. The reflection exercise below can be done individually, with a close friend, or in a faith-sharing group. The reflections are specially designed for LGBTQ people and allies.
These Advent exercises are part of New Ways Ministry’s Journeys series: a collection of Scripture selections, reflection questions, prayers, and video meditations.
We hope these spiritual aids will help all of you on your own journeys. For the readings for this Sunday, click here.
If you would like to share some of your reflections with other Bondings 2.0 readers, please feel free to add whatever responses you have in the “Comments” section of this post.
From the shadows of scripture, the story of an ordinary carpenter comes to light in the opening chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The carpenter utters no words; his actions, though, garner all the attention.
A descendant of the house of King David, his lineage exudes royalty, but his origins appear humble, and at times the target of ridicule. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” argued Nathanael (John 1:46). On another occasion the crowds remark, “Is this not Jesus, the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55)
But as the Gospel of Matthew inserts more and more details into the narrative, the worthiness of the carpenter is laid bare. And drawing on the righteousness, faith and obedience of this man, the remarkable plan of God unravels.
What is most impressive about this otherwise inconspicuous character is how this divinely inspired individual braved the social customs and traditions of his time to take Mary into his home.
We know the man as St. Joseph.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When Jesus’ mother, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, a righteous man, unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was Joseph’s intention when suddenly the angel of God appeared in a dream and said, “Joseph, heir to the House of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save the people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what God had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name the child Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of God had directed him and took his wife into his home.
- As an LGBTQ person or ally have you been exposed to shame or ridicule? Have people quietly “divorced” you for who you are? In the face of such rejection, who were the “righteous” in your life? Who stood by you?
- “Do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home.” Do you have to brave social customs and traditions, or laws, to live out your life as an LGBTQ person or ally? How do you respond to those censorious of your identity and beliefs? How does the name Emmanuel, which means “God is with us” encourage you on your path?
- God entrusted Jesus and Mary to the care of St. Joseph. If you are a parent of LGBTQ children, or if you are an LGBTQ parent, where or when have you felt a need to safeguard your children, whether they are young or adults? What sentiments or emotions surged through you as you paid heed to your maternal or paternal instincts?
- If you are a “single” person, how does God invite you into relationship with others? How do you explore intimacy, love, and Gospel service?
- Do you feel that God directs you through your dreams? Share how God communicates with you through your subconscious.
- “You are to name him Jesus.” Who named you? What does your name mean? How does your name reveal the uniqueness of who you are? How important is your own genealogy to you? Why?
PRAYER to Saint Joseph
Glorious Saint Joseph,
whose power makes the impossible possible,
come to my aid
in these times of anguish and difficulty.
Take under your protection
the serious and troubling situations
that I commend to you,
that they may have a happy outcome.
My beloved father, all my trust is in you.
Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain,
and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary,
show me that your goodness is as great as your power,
The video below, “The Remarkable Story of Joseph the Carpenter,” fills in some of the gaps in the Gospel of Matthew, and invites the viewer further into the social customs and traditions of the time the Christmas story was written.
Through evidence from scripture and some imagination, the relationship between Mary and Joseph comes alive, fulfilling a prophecy long foretold.
-Dwayne Fernandes, New Ways Ministry, December 18, 2022