while I was sleeping

Dec 18, 2020

Take a moment to read today’s gospel reading.

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:”The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel,” a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

This is the event that changed all of human history.

Before the birth of Christ people knew that God existed, but the sense was that God lived at a distance from the earth, in the heavens, communicating through cosmic signs; weather events, storms, floods, rainbows and earthquakes wind and fire.

Every now and then the holy person would climb the mountain (since mountain-tops were closer to heaven) and communicate with God on behalf of the people, bringing any word from God back down to the people.

The prevailing sense among believers that God needed to be pleased and appeased through obedience to the law, good works and sacrifice.

The events reported in today’s gospel readings changed this direction. While we may still search for God, the new divine method is a God who not only searches for us, but who comes to us in flesh and blood in the here and now, in the routine, mundane and demanding events of daily life.

I like the way that the angel communicated with Joseph most clearly when Joseph was sleeping. Joseph was doing nothing, just sleeping, yet he woke with a clear sense of what he was to do.

An Invitation

  • I am sure that the night after hearing from Mary that she was pregnant with the child of the Holy Spirit, Joseph would have gone to bed in turmoil, yet he woke with clear direction and new energy.
  • Throughout today. become aware of any way that you may be struggling to know where God is present and active in your life. Before you sleep tonight ask Jesus to give you new direction and clarity when you wake in the morning.

Today’s “O Antiphon” – O Adonai (Lord).

O Adonai,
and leader of the house of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush,
and who gave him the law on Sinai:
come to redeem us with outstretched arm.


  1. For a number of years as a young boy in the late 1940s/50s, God was that person in the sky with a white beard. It was many years later that I became aware of God being always with us. And again years later that I became aware that we can have a relationship with Jesus in the stillness of our Heart. That moment when Jesus moves from our head to our Heart.
    Loved the Latin singing.

  2. Thank you Fr John, my day can now unfold.

  3. Amen thanks Father John for your teachings Amen

  4. What a beautiful chant. A prayer in itself.
    Thank you.

  5. In response to your thoughtful reflection this morning, John, I would like to share with my fellowship of faithful friends an Irish Blessing on this, the seventh day before Christmas Day ……


    May you be blessed
    With the Spirit of the season
    Which is peace
    The gladness of the season,
    Which is hope
    And the heart of the season,
    Which is love.

    With Aroha

  6. How wonderful to see all the initials on the ‘prayer board’ each praying for the others. Now imagine how many who have not entered their initials, but who are praying for all those listed. How uplifting is that?

  7. I do agree, to days thoughts I thank you for John.

  8. How trusting was Joseph! I pray for such trust in God Our Father.
    And how beautiful St Joseph has been named by the Pope as Patron of the Church for 2021! Alleluia.

  9. Jesus, give us new direction and clarity when we wake up in the morning!

  10. May we be obedient, as
    St Joseph was,through listening
    To thy “holy “Spirit” in the
    Waking and sleeping,
    of our Daily lives.
    Armed with readiness
    to listen and go forward with the word of God,placed in our hearts.
    Thankyou Fr John.


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