It hasn’t been too long ago that we were listening to Bing Crosby dreaming of a “White Christmas” and people in all parts of the world telling us “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” What are you dreaming about as we look into a new year? Some of you may be dreaming about the gifts you did or didn’t receive. Some of you may be dreaming about the college acceptance letter you hope to receive or your jobs, financial or family situations. Some may be dreaming that you’ll be healed of your illness, you prayers will be heard, your family will prosper, or that God will feel closer in your life. Many may be dreaming that 2020 will be better than 2019. The list is endless!
Father Michael Renninger gave a thought-provoking homily on the topic of God’s dream for each of us. I’d like to draw on his words as our inspiration today and look at Joseph and Mary and how they must have dreamed also. At the end of December the church celebrated their feast — the Feast of the Holy Family. On that weekend we focused on the life of Mary and Joseph and Jesus. As we ease into 2020 it might be a good time to look at their lives once again. As they made their way back home after the great event we have to suspect that Mary and Joseph had dreams too. Both of them were dreaming – dreaming about what it will be like to live together as husband and wife, creating a home together, returning to their friends and relatives. Dreaming about what it will be like to teach their Son the Jewish faith, raise him to be strong and watch him mature. Dreaming about the future.
But things didn’t quite happen as planned! We know from the gospel that Joseph had dreams before Jesus’ birth and also when there was a need to protect the baby and keep Jesus safe from the enemy, Herod. He had to let go of his dream so that he could embrace the dream that God had for his life. On a deeper level, Joseph had to trust that his dream for his life was too small – God had a dream for his family that was more expansive, more wonderful, more world-changing than Joseph could ever comprehend. Father Renninger says, “Joseph learned that God is God, and Joseph is not, and he (and everyone of us) should not fear when our dreams get turned around.”
What did all this require of Joseph? Nothing less than trust. Father reflects on the powerful thoughts from Matthew’s gospel on trust. “God is with us. God is with me. God is with everyone. God is with us, always, and everywhere. And if God is with me, then how can I be afraid? Is there anyone, or anything, in the universe that is bigger than God or more powerful than God? And if that God is with me, how can I let fear control me? “
Renninger goes on to say, “God has a dream for us, for our church and nation and world. God’s dream for us is bigger than we can imagine. God’s dream is that we will play our part in revealing a redeemed world, following the example of Jesus. God’s dream for us is that we will be so faithful to Jesus that his Gospel will take flesh here and now.” When God dreams for our world, we want to know what that dream looks like. Renninger reminds us that Jesus told us in the most simple words…”It’s a dream in which we…
- Forgive 7 x7 times
- Love our enemies and pay for those who persecute us.
- Understand that whenever we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the poor, we are doing those thing for Christ.
- Put patience and compassion at the core of our hearts.
- Be faithful to our promises, to each other, and faithful to God.
- Go where God leads us, when God leads, as God leads.
As we take these directives into another year, we need to ask ourselves: Are we willing to let God do the dreaming for us, trusting that God’s dreams are always bigger, and bring greater blessings then the ones that we come up with ourselves? It will not necessarily be easy; it surely wasn’t easy for Joseph.
Yes, we were dreaming about a lot of things this past Christmas season. Some dreams haven’t come true; some may never come true. Perhaps it’s possible that God wants to show us his NEW dream. Let us trust, as Joseph and Mary did, that God can lead us to that place, to that life, that will bring us the greatest joy. As we continue into 2020 let us pray, always trusting in God’s dream for each of us: “God, I ask you to dream for me because you are with me no matter what!!”
Sister Lauretta Leipzig