In the early days of Advent, we heard the loud voice of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, shouting the need for repentance, and calling people to conversion.  His voice was loud, forceful, and emphatic.  He spoke because there was a message that needed to be proclaimed.
Now that we are fast approaching Christmas, the loud voice of John gives way to the silence of another Advent figure, the man Joseph from Nazareth.  Already destined to be the Virgin Mary’s spouse, the gospels record not a single word from this man.  He was to be the legal guardian of God’s Son Jesus the Christ and yet, in this important role, he does not speak.
Joseph was silent not because he had nothing to say.  In fact, his mind and heart were full of anxious questions. No doubt, he expressed these concerns in prayer.  He was a strong, hardworking, active figure, not a passive one. And yet, he chose to be silent. I remember another biblical figure, Zechariah, who was made mute by God because he did not immediately believe in the promise of a miracle for him and his wife.
But Joseph’s silence was not imposed but chosen. He was silent because he deliberately wanted to listen to the Lord. The gospel says, in his silence, he heard God’s voice through an angel.  God was speaking to him and he was listening and beginning to understand.  In the end, his silence led him to obedience.
How many times we fail to hear the message of God because we only listen to our complaints, oppositions and opinions.  God was speaking and we were talking at the same time. And then we conclude that God did not respond to our prayer.
 How many times we saw human relationships break down because people prefer to compete in delivering their messages to each other, while no one took time to listen to what was being said. In a parent-child retreat, the constant accusation from both parties is: “You talk and talk, but don’t listen! I have something to say to you. Please stop ignoring me some times.”
Listening means you are willing to learn, to know, to understand and to give space to another person to lead you and show you the way. And this, St. Joseph wisely discovered.  God’s plan was slowly revealed to him and as he also opened his heart, he became ready to cooperate and obey.
As Christmas noise intensifies in the malls, in the media, in the streets, do you sense a need for you to listen to the Lord?  He is waiting in the silence of a church or adoration chapel, in his Word in the Bible.  Do you feel the need to listen to someone whose voice you have been ignoring?  Try listening and maybe you will understand and grow in acceptance and reconciliation.
St. Joseph, teach us to be silent before the coming mystery of God-made-man.