(a reflection on Matthew 1:18-24, 4th Advent A)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney
"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus."
Joseph’s response to God can lead us in many, many directions, but today I would like to focus on just two points. The context, of course, is Joseph’s humble submission of his will to God’s will in all things, which is what one would expect of someone called "righteous."
There is a Dominican mystic from the 14th century that is often quoted, because his words capture so well our own participation in this process of submitting to God's will. His name is Meister Eckhart, and he asks the questions that we all ought to consider. First he asks: “What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture?” Both Mary’s “Yes” (that brought Christ to the world), and Joseph's "Yes" (that gave a perfect example of unconditional trust in God)—those two events are not just “memory events” (such as recalling that Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan set records to remember). Instead, they ought to lead us to ponder how to imitate them: how can I bring Christ to the daily world that I live in and participate in? Do I reflect Christ in what I say and do?
A second question that Meister Eckhart asks: “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son . . . does not take place within myself?” When God comes to dwell within us at our Baptism, we are empowered to live the Christ-life, one oriented to loving God and Neighbor. Do I see that orientation in my own heart, or am I still oriented to selfishness? Do I humbly submit to all of the teachings of the Church, or do I pick and choose?
In summary: like Joseph and Mary, have I truly given an unqualified “Yes” to Jesus in my own life? Is the submission of my will to God unconditional?
St. Joseph, patron of family life, pray for us!
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