When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean. -Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
A few years ago one of my seeking friends called me a lot to have discussions about the meaning of life. “I just don’t get it Julia,” she would say. “Why are we born, if our death is inevitable?” Her insightful question is certainly valid, and undoubtedly common. Because my friend is normal, I was embarrassed to admit that I had never really thought about the question before.
I don’t think that I have ever worried about the meaning of life because I made a choice when I was a child. Early on I decided what life’s meaning is for me. Now I know how to say it: the point of all this living is relationship. It’s so true for me and it guides all my actions. When I am lazy or selfish, a mantra bubbles up from inside, like a signpost directing me where to turn: the point of life is relationship. It’s all about relationship.
Then, guided by the Truth and challenge of relationship, I turn away from my ego and my desire to hide. I choose to relate. I shut up and unplug and listen to God within and around and tell God my deepest secrets. We get closer and I am reminded that good relationships always take a lot of work and time.
My friendship with God then turns me out again; I orient toward the other in community, friendship, family, city, creation, neighbor. I sit with my elder sister and laugh and love. I talk to my siblings on the phone. I listen to the stranger, even when I feel like I should rush. I pray with my friends and cry with the suffering. I ask my students questions. I gaze at the moon because I know she is my sister and I pray for the earth because she is certainly my mother, in a way. Over and over, I struggle to let go of my agendas and notice how the moments of my days beg me to pay attention to other beautiful elements in God’s kingdom.
Because I relate to all sorts of people I am forced to stretch and grow. My perspectives change and I am required to leave the ordinary behind. I let God give me new encounters and accept the fact that I never get to be the same. I now understand that considering relationship the meaning of life is not only Christian and Trinitarian, but Franciscan. And, as scientists are now discovering and teaching, it is human. So, it’s a good thing I am one.
Joseph got this, it seems. Because he was friends with God and was familiar with His voice, it was very clear to him when his dreams were from God. Because he understood the language, he could follow the directions and then so lovingly care for the Blessed Mother Mary and the Holy Child Jesus. He chose to obey, because the relationships with his wife and his Son mattered most.
Like Joseph teaches, when we let dreams direct us we aren’t picking what’s comfortable, or even about what makes sense. Even though it may seem impractical, when we let our relationship with God and others guide us, we’ll quickly realize that we are dancing with the holy and becoming a blessing to others.
There’s a great beauty in the blessing. When we let relationships be our meaning we are free to be a holy family. Thanks be to God!
Photo from Flickr sharing http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidking/2117259520/in/photostream/