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A listing of recent homilies delivered at my parish.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
- 12-22-2019 - 4th Sunday of Advent
… When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (verse 24)
I found a very dense quote attributed to Pope Benedict: “To trust God does not mean to see everything clearly according to our criteria, it does not mean to carry out what we have planned; to trust God means to empty ourselves of ourselves and to deny ourselves, because only one who accepts losing himself for God can be ‘just’ as St. Joseph, that is, can conform his own will to God’s and thus be fulfilled.”
What is the will of God? Or, a better question is: how broad is the will of God? And why do I ask such a question? There are two types – at least – of God’s will. There is his perfect will. There is his permissive will. Now, in fairness I have to say that there are some people who argue that this is nonsense. There are those who argue in favor of this. I… agree with the latter. Let’s describe God’s perfect will first.
Because God is all knowing, omniscient, he knows the exact right thing for any of us to do in any given moment. And he knows that there is only one perfectly correct thing to do. Jesus always lived in that perfect will of God. He did so because he is God! Everything that Jesus did was done in line with God’s perfect will. Everything has a purpose that Jesus did and said, and it was all in conformity with that perfect will. But Jesus is the only one who lived completely in that perfect will of God.
Now, don’t get excited. Remember, I mentioned there is the permissive will of God. This is an all-knowing and loving God looking at our lives and seeing that there are any number of paths that we could take in our lives that do not cause us, or lead us, into sin. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, always lived in either the perfect or the permissive will of God. She was not necessarily protected from failing to live in the perfect will of God. But she was protected from sin, which meant she always lived AT LEAST in the permissive will of God. What should she fix for dinner? It didn’t make any difference, unless she was going to cook a ham! Uh, you know, Jews could not eat pork. We are called to live the same way, but we don’t always do that – and when we fall out of God’s perfect AND permissive wills, that is called sin.
Why am I focusing on all this? It goes back to the quote attributed to Pope Benedict. “…only one who accepts losing himself for God can be ‘just’ as St. Joseph, that is, can conform his own will to God’s and thus be fulfilled.” We need to conform our will to God’s. That is the only way we can live a fulfilled life. We will always be lacking something if we fail to live in God’s will, perfect or permissive. Think about it for a moment: does God care whether you have a turkey or ham for Christmas? Am I being a little silly? Yes. Is God concerned with those simple things? Yes, and no.
He, of course, knows what is best for us. I think the hardest part of the spiritual life is learning to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us words that reveal the will of God. I have heard there are some people who are so attuned to listening for the voice of God that they even seem to know whether they should turn left or right as they are walking down the street. I think I have had moments like that, but I do not live in that level of holiness. But I also do not think this level of holiness belongs only to someone like… St. Teresa of Calcutta! It is something for all of us.
But, it seems St. Joseph knew how to live in that kind of listening. It seems that is all he does. There is not a spoken word from St. Joseph in the Gospels. Did you know that? Not one word does he speak. There is only hidden listening, and acting on what he hears God wants. Quoting from the same article I found the quote from Pope Benedict: “With the eyes of faith, Joseph could see clearly. He believed in the plan announced by the angel. His silence was a profession of faith before the very Word-made-Flesh.”
I think our modern world is too attached to noise. We cannot seem to stay in silence very long. But:
It is out of the silence of St. Joseph that we hear the shout of God and his divine will.
It is out of the silent protection of St. Joseph that we see the hand of God guiding and protecting us through the work of his own Son.
It is out of the silent suffering of St. Joseph that we learn to yield to the will of God.
So I return to Pope Benedict’s remarks. “To trust God does not mean to see everything clearly according to OUR criteria, it does not mean to carry out what WE have planned; to trust God means to empty ourselves of ourselves and to deny ourselves…”
St. Joseph probably had very different plans for his life with his wife. Exactly what those were, we have no way of knowing. We cannot know because St. Joseph pushed those things aside to trust God; to empty himself, even of his own voice, to be a servant of God. He is called the Patron of the Universal Church. As he protected the Holy Family, he intercedes now for the “Whole” Family of God.
In his silence he gives us the example of a man who is searching for the will of God. He found it there on that Christmas night as he gazed at the face of the baby Jesus, God Incarnate, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. And here… Is Joseph… The Silent Protector… The foster father of the Savior of the world. What does he teach you about seeking and following the will of God?
I need some help from some people to carry around this Nativity scene that Pope Francis fell in love with this year. I want all of you to see this before I begin this prayer.
As I said, this Nativity scene is one that Pope Francis fell in love with this year. As I close this homily today as I have been doing for a while now, I want to use this old prayer of intercession for the protection and prayers of St. Joseph. You may even have heard it or something like it:
St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
St. Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he rests near your heart. Hold Him in my name and kiss his forehead for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.
Finally, the image that was carried around is entitled “Let Mommy Rest.”