A Dream is defined as ‘thoughts, images, and sensations that occur in a person’s mind during sleep.’ I once dreamt that I was the pope – which was more of a nightmare than anything else! Could you even imagine that?! Dream could also mean ‘a cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal.’ The second meaning could also include images and sensations that occur in the mind though not necessarily while sleeping…. Such a ‘dream’ offers hope – doesn’t it? It brings with it the prospect of a brighter future and as such – the feeling of joy. I can’t say that I ever dreamt of becoming a priest – at least not as a kid. When I was in seminary, I of course could picture myself at the altar, in the confessional, baptizing, and so on… these images became not only a ‘cherished aspiration’ but a reality for my life…
Dreams are significant in Scripture. Often, they have great meaning and purpose – particularly by way of revelation, warning, instruction and/or direction. Here, in Joseph’s dream we see much of this being played out – revelation: who the child is; instruction/direction: take Mary into your home, name the child, etc… Later in Matthew’s Gospel Joseph will also receive a ‘warning’ dream of the impending threats from King Herod. Joseph’s dreams remind us of the dreams of his namesake in the Old Testament and that of Daniel – the master interpreter of dreams. Biblical dreams always have a significant context – and this is no different. St. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a ‘righteous’ man, meaning he was a devout Jew, he was a holy man… in this dream then, he would have known what it was about… He would have known that it was big … He would have known Israel’s dream of the Messiah was about to become a reality… a dream come true…and he had a role to play in it.
What do you dream about? I want to note for the record that I do not dream about being Pope… nor a bishop for that matter! What do you dream about? What would your ‘cherished aspirations’? Perhaps we all dream of a more peaceful world, where we all give to one another the kindness and respect that each human being deserves, maybe we dream of financial security …. While these are not bad things to dream about, I wonder … do you dream about becoming a saint? Do you dream about one day gazing on the face of God for eternity? Do you ever wonder what it takes to make that dream come true? Are you willing to engage to make it become a reality?
Joseph knew much would be required of him to make Israel’s dream of a Savior become a reality. He knew it was big… And he engaged. I think we forget that we too have a role to play in the Church… we too have our own responsibilities of faithfulness to God – to the Church, her teachings, her rites, rituals, devotions, and so on… Are we, like Joseph, willing to engage? Are we willing to dream of one day standing beside him having fulfilled our mission … Do you dream of becoming a saint? Are you willing to engage to make that dream come true?