Early one afternoon my wife had looked through our store of keepsakes, the kind that we went through and really decided that we wanted to keep. Its contents make up a somewhat decent-sized old-fashioned-looking chest. She found a frame that my sister, her Confirmation sponsor and college friend, had give to her at some point. The words, written in beautiful calligraphy, read thus: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” This was an important frame to her and to me as well, but it had been stowed away ever since we made a big move a couple of years ago. That day it surfaced as its message would be useful in communicating something God wanted to say to us.
After the day had passed and we were laying down to fall asleep I thought to myself, somewhat bewildered, it might be nice to have a sign, some reassurance of God’s plans and of his love for us. Of course I didn’t demand this sign in disbelief, but I nevertheless felt such a thing might be nice. I thought of St. Joseph who has been an important patron for us not least on account that he is my namesake. With all of this in mind I began to pray the St. Joseph prayer to myself in my mind. Almost immediately upon beginning the prayer my wife started talking, and at first I thought “I wish she would stop talking so that I can concentrate on my prayer,” but then it dawned on me what she was saying as I continued to pray to St. Joseph, half way listening and half way praying. My wife said that she had found that old frame that my sister had given to her so long ago, the one that talks about “plans for your welfare and not for woe.” And then she said “I found a medal tucked in between the frame and the glass covering the words, and it was a St. Joseph medal….I felt like it was a promise, a reassurance.”
I am not making this stuff up! If we have the eyes to see, and haven’t blinded ourselves with deadly sin, God constantly reassures us even as a loving Father seeks to encourage his children at all times. If we feel like we need to demand a sign, demand proof of God’s love, we are at least not in a good way spiritually speaking. But even if we are feeling this way lets pray that we will take after St. Thomas who upon seeing Christ declared “my Lord and my God!” And furthermore, lets pray that we avoid Zachariah’s trap who upon being visited by an angel doubted the angel’s announcement, and was thus made dumb as a punishment for his lack of faith. Regardless though, as long as we are willing to open our hearts God will have a plan for us. He wants each and every one of us to return to him, to repent, and to believe in his love for us with a childlike trust that looks to the face of God as a child looks upon his father.
The angel of God said unto Mary and unto the shepherds on that night “do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”