SOMEHOW, the name of Joseph reminds us of dreams. We have Joseph, the son of Jacob, in the Old Testament, and St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, in the New Testament, both of whose lives were shaped by dreams.
In the case of Joseph, the son of Jacob, his brothers branded him as a dreamer out of envy. He told them of a dream about his sheaf of crop standing out and those of his brothers bowed down to his. Also, he dreamt of the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing down to him, which further stirred the envy of his brothers.
This was later on realized when even Jacob and Josephâ€™s brothers had to bow down to him, already as a governor of Egypt who was in charge of dispensing grain during the time of famine. This part of the story of Joseph is most moving, it shows his magnanimity and how good a person he was in spite of the grave injustice inflicted on him by own brothers.
It was also because of dreams that Joseph, who was earlier sold as a slave by own brothers, managed to gain favor from the Egyptian ruler and later rose to be a big man there. And thatâ€™s because he convincingly interpreted the dreams of the baffled and disturbed pharaoh.
It was when the great famine struck and all people had to go to Egypt that the famous words, â€œIte ad Ioseph,â€ (Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you), were uttered by the Egyptian pharaoh who already trusted Joseph and gave him charge of the affairs and concerns of the land.
Somehow the Old Testament Joseph prefigures the New Testament St. Joseph. Like the former, the latter also had dreams that shaped his life. He was clarified about his vocation and mission in life through a dream. Like the former, the latter also had to go to Egypt because of the rampage of killing of the innocents.
And just as the former received the homage of his own father and brothers, the latter now is revered by the Christian faithful all over the world. And just as the former took care of the affairs and concerns of Egypt, the latter took care of Jesus and Mary, and now of the whole Church.
We can only wish that we have dreams like those of the two Josephs. This should be part of our constant prayers. Even if we should not pay much attention to our dreams, since they are beyond our control, we should realize that dreams somehow play an important role of our life. They can tell us many things about ourselves, and about others also, and still many other things.
We have to know how to handle them, when to take them seriously and when not. The proper and basic attitude, I think, is not to be afraid of them and to remain calm, especially when they are distressing. We should also bring them to our prayers, always asking for light from God.
Yes, dreams can express the content of our subconscious mind and heart, our fears, hidden desires and pent-up emotions. When this is the case, it can only mean that we have to improve on our integrity and simplicity, our unity of life, resolving with the grace of God and our efforts whatever inner contradictions we harbor in our hearts, especially the tension between our spirit and our wounded flesh.
We may have to make some consultations with appropriate persons like priests and spiritual counselors, etc. In this, we have to practice utmost prudence and remain calm.
But letâ€™s pray that we have dreams of the entertaining type tooâ€”song-and-dance routines, adventures, comical skits, a little suspense and drama, etc. This would somehow indicate we are ok, healthy, etc. Letâ€™s thank God for them.
But most especially, letâ€™s ask God that our dreams be like those of the two Josephs, that is, that we have dreams that are vehicles of Godâ€™s will and messages for us.
These are dreams that help us discover our true vocation, that somehow portend the future to us, that make us more in love with God and with everybody else. These are dreams that though involving some sacrifices, would make us happy and at peace.
Now that we have this holy craze of the devotion to the sleeping St. Joseph, letâ€™s approach this holy patriarch and ask him that we have dreams like his. I am sure that he is too willing to oblige us. From heaven, his intercessions will always be effective.