Recently Pope Francis added the name of Saint Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayers at Mass after Mary, the Virgin Mother of God: “Blessed Joseph, her spouse.” This signals the importance of Joseph in the story of the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Saint Matthew’s Gospel presents the unfolding drama of the coming of the Lord from the perspective of Joseph. This is an important Gospel reading because Joseph is usually in the background, the protector and the provider. Joseph’s love is a silent love. He is faithful and present but not prominent. For that very reason, we might identify with him. In the ordinary and routine moments of life, much of our love is silent love. We do our job day in and day out; we exercise our responsibilities in the background often unnoticed.
Thus, as we approach the feast of the birth of Jesus, we might allow Saint Joseph to walk with us. We might ask for the grace of perseverance. Joseph was faced with a dilemma: the woman he planned to marry was with child and according to the laws of the time, she should be banished. He takes a more compassionate stance and decides to divorce her quietly so as not to bring shame upon her. The Lord visits him through the angel who invites him to be part of a great plan and a redeeming vision for humanity. Joseph cooperates with God’s dream and “takes his wife into his home.”
The true meaning of Christmas is that we cooperate with God’s dream for His people. And what is God’s dream for His people? It is that each person comes to appreciate how much he / she is loved by God. Despite what the prevailing culture says, we are not self-sufficient; we are not the masters of our own destiny. We are wounded by sin and we need a Savior. This is a personal matter that each of us must face and then we can turn to Christ. Indeed, there is a god and his name is not soccer or self. His name is Jesus and He came so that we might have life and have it to the full.
Let us begin by recognizing our need for a Savior and by entering into a personal relationship with Christ, the Lord. Then we will be ready for Christmas.
May the Lord give you peace.
Rev. James M. McNamara