I know I have used this story before so please forgive me, but I believe that it presents a profound message that is worthy of repeating.
Joseph was a poor shoemaker. He worked long hours every day in his humble little workshop, where he just managed to make a meagre living.
In spite of his circumstances, Joseph was a joyous, friendly person who never hesitated to give a helping hand.
One night after taking his normal frugal meal, he went to bed.
As he slept, he dreamed that he was visited by a wonderful person.
In all his life he had never seen such a kind gentle face. The visitor told him that tomorrow he would visit Joseph in his shop. Joseph was sure that the visitor was Jesus.
The next day could not come quickly enough for the shoemaker. He was so happy as he tidied up his little shop. Soon all was ready for the joyously anticipated visit.
But no-one came, except an old man who had been shovelling snow.
He was cold and hungry, so Joseph served him hot bread and tea. The man was so grateful as he left.
A little later on, a strange woman with a scared, care-worn look on her face entered. She was poorly dressed and was closely holding a sickly looking little baby.
Joseph gave her a warm, nourishing meal and as she left, he removed his jacket and spread it over the little baby.
Although there was deep satisfaction in his heart as he helped the needy ones, he felt a twinge of disappointment that the expected visitor had not arrived.
However, that night he had another dream where he heard a soothing, tender voice that said, ‘‘Joseph, didn’t you recognise me? Twice I visited you today. I knew you wanted to do kind and helpful things for me and you did that when you helped others in my name’’.
Then Joseph understood the meaning of the words of Jesus when he said, ‘‘Truly I say to you, as you have helped the least you have done it to me’’.
As we have seen constant reminders of this message during the recent Christmas season, let’s make an effort to play our part in showing ‘‘goodwill to all men’’ just as the unselfish Joseph did. We will never regret it!