Sunday, December 19, 2010

Men Like Joseph

Homily from the 4th Sunday of Advent – Year A

Every year, our Sunday Gospel readings focus on a different Evangelist’s writings.  This year, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the vast majority of our Sunday Gospels will come from the Gospel of Matthew.  We’re now in what’s called “Year A” of a three-cycle.  The cycles are actually easy to memorize.  Years A, B and C focus on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, have what are called infancy narratives or, the stories of Jesus’ birth.  And each of these infancy narratives gives special attention to one of Jesus’ parents.  The Gospel according to Luke focuses largely on Mary, whereas the Gospel according to Matthew focuses largely on Joseph.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect a lot on Mary.  We celebrated the Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on December 8th,  And last Sunday, was the feast of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This week, we hear the beginning of the infancy narrative from the Gospel of Matthew.  So, this gives us the opportunity to consider St. Joseph’s role in the birth of Christ.

In today’s Gospel, St. Joseph stands as a model of virtue worthy of our admiration and imitation.  And St. Joseph is a role model in a particular way to men.  So, if you’ll permit me ladies, I beg your patience for just a few moments, because I would like to take this opportunity to preach in particular, to my fellow men gathered here today.  I think you’ll be pleased that I did.

Men, St. Joseph is for us, a true model of manhood.  You and I must become men like Joseph  He bears a number of manly qualities for us to imitate.  Allow me to mention but a few

Joseph is a man of integrity.  He was betrothed to Mary.  She was to be his wife.  In our Gospel reading today, he and Mary did not yet live together.  But one day, Mary said to Joseph, “I’m with child.”  And Joseph knew the child was not his. 

According to the law of Moses, it was Joseph’s legal right to have Mary stoned.  But Joseph was not a vengeful man.  Joseph did not care about being right.  He did not care about winning the argument.  He cared about the welfare of Mary.  The Gospel tells us, Joseph “was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame.”  Joseph is a man of integrity.

Joseph is a man of God.  Joseph listens to God.  Three times, God spoke to Joseph through an angel.  In today’s Gospel, we hear of the first message.  In a dream, the angel tells Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary into his home.  Later, the angel will warn Joseph to take Mary and Jesus out of Bethlehem because Herod seeks to kill the child.  Later again, the angel tells Joseph to return to Israel.  Joseph listens to God and he trusts God.   Joseph is a man of God. And by being a man of God, Joseph is empowered with another heroic virtue.

Joseph is a man of action.  Immediately after receiving instruction from God through the angel.  Joseph rises from his sleep and does exactly as God commands.  He doesn’t doubt or question.  He doesn’t whine or complain.  He doesn’t wimp out. He takes action.

He takes Mary into his home and raises the child as his own.  When in danger, he leads Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt.  When the time to return home has come, he brings his wife and his child under his roof.  Joseph is a man of action.

Joseph is a man of humility.  It could be said that Joseph was a soft spoken man.  If you want proof of Joseph’s humility, try finding in the Bible anything he said.  In all of the Gospels, you will find not one single word spoken by Joseph.  We know nothing of what Joseph said.  And there’s no need to.  Because, as I said before, Joseph let his actions speak for themselves.  He did not need to hear himself talk.  Joseph is a man of humility.

And lastly, Joseph is a man of responsibility.  As I mentioned before, it was Joseph’s responsibility to guard and protect Mary and Jesus.  It was Joseph’s responsibility to make a home for his wife and child.  It was his responsibility to earn a living and provide food and clothing for his family.

And if you want to see a great example of Joseph as a man of responsibility, take a look at the beautiful statue of the Holy Family over to the left as you leave through our gathering space.  In this statue, we see a truly amazing image.  In this statue, we see Joseph, leaning over Jesus and teaching him the Torah, the Sacred Jewish Scriptures. 

Think about that for a moment. Joseph is a mere creature, created by the Word of God, teaching the Word of God to the one who is the Word of God.  Despite his own limitations and despite his own shortcomings, Joseph did not shirk his responsibility; which was, despite his own sinfulness, he was responsible for protecting the only sinless woman who ever lived and for teaching and raising the only sinless man who ever lived.

So, my fellow men; past, present and future husbands and spouses, let us ask Jesus and Mary for help to become men like this. 

Men who listen to God and are obedient to Him. 

Men who guard, protect, and provide for our spouses and children.

Men who put aside our own ego for the sake of others.

Men who would rather suffer our own embarrassment than expose another to shame.

Let us be men like Joseph.

1 comment:

  1. Do you happen to know the artist of the nativity painting used at the beginning of this blog? It is beautiful and I'd love to order a print!