Tuesday, September 8, 2015

“Faith, hope, love: these are the supports of St. Joseph's life and of all Christian lives.”

St. Joseph was chosen among all men, to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster-father of the Infant-God, and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind. - St. Bernard of Clairvaux: (1090 – 1153: French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order)
Gospel Text: (Mt 1:18-23)
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”

Today is the Nativity of Mary, but Joseph, unassuming Joseph, is where I would like to focus this reflection on. I confess that I always imagine him as the figure from the Nativity set that held a place of honor on my family’s mantel every Christmas.  As a child, I loved placing the little figures around the manger along with the sheep, the cow and the donkey with part of one leg missing.  I always imagine him as a quiet man, sawing and hammering and working carefully with wood to build things. Patient. Steadfast. The person you can depend on. Someone who makes the best of a situation. The person you want in your family. In the Gospel, we learn that Joseph was going to do the right thing, quietly when he learned Mary was with child before they lived together. An angel delivers the news that this is the one who will save people from their sins, saying don’t be afraid.  That’s tough advice. We are often afraid of what we don’t know, what we don’t understand. The depth of Joseph’s faith, his steadfastness and courage come through. He did the right thing.

We all need to be more like Joseph in our families and in our lives. We should try to be that person who is patient in the face of frustration and problems. We should try to be steadfast, to sing of the Lord as in today’s Psalm: “He has been good to me” even when life is not going as we have planned. We know the right thing to do, but sometimes we are swayed off that path. We each have a long line of family ties and circles of friends who help form us everyday. But it is up to us to continually build our lives and our relationship with God, to work at becoming the people we are born to be in the love of God. It takes a lot of hammering and sawing. Be patient. Be steadfast.

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