Pope at Angelus: ‘God can turn a crisis into a new horizon’

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on how St. Joseph welcomed the Messiah as God’s gift, and recalls that God can take the most difficult moments of our lives and turn them into opportunities for new beginnings.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis prayed the noon-day Angelus with pilgrims in a sunny St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, reflecting on the day’s Gospel (Mt 1:18-24).

Focusing his remarks on the example of St. Joseph, the Pope noted that the man who would become Jesus’ foster father probably began his betrothal to Mary with good, simple dreams for his new life and family, such as an “affectionate wife, many wonderful children, and a dignified job.”

However, his discovery that Mary was expecting a child that was not his must have created “shock, pain, confusion, perhaps even irritation and disappointment.”

Shattered dreams

As his dreams and world fell to pieces around him, St. Joseph considered that the Mosaic Law gave him two options, either accuse Mary of her alleged infidelity or secretly annul their engagement without exposing her to harsh consequences, which however would have cast the burden of shame upon him.

Joseph, noted Pope Francis, takes the second option since it is “the way of mercy”.

“And behold, at the height of his crisis, right when he is thinking and evaluating all this,” said the Pope, “God shines a new light in his heart – He declares to him in a dream that Mary’s motherhood did not come about because of a betrayal, but by the work of the Holy Spirit, and the baby that would be born is the Saviour.”

When he awoke, St. Joseph understood that God was fulfilling in him—albeit in an unexpected way—the greatest dream of every devout Israelite: to be the father of the Messiah.

Trust versus guarantees

Pope Francis went on to say that St. Joseph knew he would have to entrust himself to God completely by welcoming Mary and her Son in a way that was different to anything that had been done before.

“Joseph would have to renounce all reassuring certainties, his perfect plans, his legitimate expectations, and open himself to a future that he would have to discover.”

The “just man” displayed heroic courage and said “yes” to God, trusting Him completely and asking for no further guarantees.

Shattered dreams and new horizons

Turning to what we can learn today from this Gospel episode, Pope Francis noted that we all have our own life goals, which we often reflect on more around Christmas, even those that have not panned out the way we had hoped.

Joseph, added the Pope, shows us the way to understand those shattered dreams.

“We do not need to give in to negative feelings, like anger or isolation – this is the wrong way!” he said. “Instead, we need to attentively welcome surprises in life, even crises.”

In moments of crisis, we should “consider everything”, like Joseph, rather than making impulsive decisions.

When we keep the door open to God in the midst of a personal crisis, concluded Pope Francis, God can intervene, since He is an “expert in transforming crises into dreams.”

“God opens crises into new horizons, perhaps not as we would expect, but in the way that He knows how. God’s horizons are surprising, but infinitely more grand and beautiful than ours!”

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18 December 2022, 12:08

The Angelus is a special prayer recited by Catholics three times a day, at 6am, noon, and 6pm and is accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell. The name comes from the Latin word for Angel and the prayer itself reminds us of how Jesus Christ assumed our human nature through the Mystery of the Incarnation.
The Pope recites the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square every Sunday at midday.
He also gives a brief reflection on the Gospel of the day and often comments on some issue of international concern. The Pope’s words are broadcast all over the world on radio and television and widely shared on social media.
From Easter to Pentecost the Regina Coeli is prayed instead of the Angelus. This prayer commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and, like the Angelus, concludes with the recitation of the Gloria three times.

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