March 19, 2017

Reflection on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

St. Joseph and the angel

The Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2017

By Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; 
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary 
your wife into your home." (Mt 1:20)

Try for a moment to see the situation through Joseph’s eyes. The woman he loved and was engaged to tells him she is pregnant. He knows he is not the father of this child. Already Mary has shared enough information to hurt Joseph. Wait! There is more. Mary claims an angel has visited her. The visitor informed her that she was to conceive through the Holy Spirit. Thus, the child will be the Son of God. If it was found out that Mary was pregnant outside of marriage she could be in grave trouble with the authorities. It is no wonder Joseph had decided to send her away quietly. The Gospel chosen for today’s feast is the dream in which Joseph is told not to fear and to bring her into his home. Her story is true! When Joseph awoke, he took Mary into his home, married her, and never looked back. He became the earthly father to the young Jesus and helped raise him into adulthood. In many ways, Joseph is the unsung hero of the whole Incarnation event. What can the modern person learn from Joseph? Today’s Christian can learn the need of being open to the movements of the Lord in life. One can also understand the true meaning of vocation.

It takes a lot of faith, trust, and patience to be open to the movements of the Spirit in life. Most of us will not be visited by angels or hear voices out of burning bushes as did Moses. It is possible however to detect God’s will without those extraordinary events happening. One can detect God’s voice in the voices of others, especially those closest to us. One can also hear him in the words of Scripture and in the prayers of the Church. One detects God’s will in the quiet moments of prayer. Reading one’s “gut reaction” to an issue is essential in understanding God’s will, for there God speaks. Patience is required as God does not work on a human timetable and will work only in his time. And his time is the most important time! Be open to the Spirit!

Joseph was open to what God wanted of him. He did not know the outcome of raising this child nor what his life would be like. But he was open to the direction God had placed before him. That’s all God asks! God knows each human person by name and knows of what each person is capable. Be open to that movement in your life. He will lead you to places you never thought possible.

From time to time in life, one feels stirrings in one’s heart and soul. These stirrings are the work of God, who may be pointing to something different for you. He may be calling you on to a new career or to some other new phase of life. Allow those stirrings to guide you; in them is found the voice of God. Do not be afraid, he says to Joseph. Do not be afraid, he says to you and me.

The second major theme one can glean from St. Joseph is the true meaning of vocation. Joseph was a carpenter by trade, but God had bigger plans for him. His true vocation was to raise the Christ child into adulthood. A major task! By all accounts, Joseph embraced his vocation and fulfilled all of his tasks as the earthly father of Jesus. God has created each person with gifts, talents, and abilities. He asks his children to take those gifts and talents and share them with the world. In this sharing, one will find his vocation in this life. One’s vocation is found in following the Lord’s will. It is not as a slave follows the directives of a master. Rather, one freely chooses to follow God’s will, to be open to the Spirit and follow where he leads. Thus, Joseph and Mary abandoned their own plans for life and found fulfillment in following God’s plans. That sense of fulfillment is available to all who follow God’s path. The most basic call each baptized person has received is to live his or her Christianity in home with one’s family, at work, school, and elsewhere. That takes commitment! Living life as Christ would have you live implies a commitment to goodness, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness. That’s the basic vocation of all Christians. From there, the person narrows down careers and relationships. In detecting one’s gifts and talents, the person is able to choose a path or career in which those gifts can be shared and lived. Be open as was Joseph! Do not be afraid; embrace God’s will for you. In that will, you will find fulfillment and peace in this life. following God’s plans. That sense of fulfillment is available to all who follow God’s path.

The most basic call each baptized person has received is to live his or her Christianity at home with one’s family, at work, school, and elsewhere. That takes commitment! Living life as Christ would have you live implies a commitment to goodness, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness. That’s the basic vocation of all Christians. From there, the person narrows down careers and relationships. In detecting one’s gifts and talents, the person is able to choose a path or career in which those gifts can be shared and lived. Be open as was Joseph! Do not be afraid; embrace God’s will for you. In that will, you will find fulfillment and peace in this life.

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