When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant he acted in accord with the cultural norms of his society: he decided to divorce her. But he tempered his decision with compassion, deciding to divorce her informally so as not to publicly shame her, even though he would have been deeply hurt.
On waking from his dream Joseph knew with absolute certainty that the meaning of Emmanuel – God is with us – applied to him and Mary. He may not have fully understood the significance of Mary’s child, and must have been rather bewildered by the phrase “she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit”. But he knew that God was with them, and that was what mattered most.
Joseph experienced a radical intervention in his life. He had decided on a course of action and changed his mind because of a dream in which an angel spoke to him. There are shelves of books and dvds in our shops about planning and decision-making, but not many would give credence to Joseph’s decision-making process.
For those who believe in God, decision-making is about belief and trust. When we are faced with making a decision of significance, naturally we review the reasons why we might choose one option over another. We might consult other people, either for information or for their opinion. It is quite possible that this process gives us peace in deciding on a particular option.
At that moment when Joseph accepted responsibility for Jesus and his mother, he made a decision of consequence for all human beings. Our decisions may not be so momentous, but they matter in our relationships with God and with other people. It is always worth inviting God into our decision-making before resorting to the shelves in the bookstore.

Excerpt from the gospel reflection of The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand at;

Download Parish Newsletter 18th December 2016