Joseph the Dreamer (Both of Them)
Today’s Gospel reading in church, and the subject of Father Rich’s sermon, was the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt soon after Jesus’s birth — to escape King Herod, who had decided to secure his kingship and defend against this king whose birth he’d heard about by killing all the babies in his area of Israel.
Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt. And it wasn’t the first time his life had been directed by a dream; when his fiancee, Mary, turned up pregnant, he decided to divorce her quietly (being a kind man, not wishing to humiliate her). Then, in a dream, he learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not by an earthly rival to Joseph, and that his destiny was to care for her and for the child. Being a good man, Joseph did as he was told, did what was clearly God’s will.
When he was told in a third dream that it was safe to return from Egypt, he came back, settled in Nazareth, taught Jesus a trade, made sure he was educated in the Scriptures (Jesus could find just what he was looking for in a scroll of the Book of Isaiah, a neat trick that shows his familiarity with scrolls).
The first Joseph, in the Book of Genesis, Isaac’s youngest son (the coat-of-many-colors Joseph) was also associated with dreams. He amazed Pharaoh by interpreting dreams, which led to his elevation to what was essentially Pharaoh’s Chancellor — by which he saved both the Egyptians and his own family from starvation and fulfilled God’s will.
Father Rich pointed out that Joseph the father of Jesus fulfilled his destiny simply by doing what he was told to do — by angels, in a dream.