Thursday, June 8, 2017

Joseph: Father and Just Man

     In an age given over to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph should be lifted up as a model to men. He was a man of few words, he spoke through his actions, and he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him. We need fewer words and more action from godly men in this hour of need.  "There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand."
     From antiquity, Christians have cherished Joseph as a model of genuine manly virtue. Since the fourteenth century there has been a specific day set aside in the Roman calendar to honor him. He is viewed as the "Patron" of the universal Church, of all husbands and of social justice. He has also been designated as the patron of all workers.
      He was a simple Carpenter who taught the Word Incarnate, the Child Jesus, how to work with wood. This Joseph was the foster father of the Incarnate Word of God, the One of whom observers would later ask "Is not this the Carpenter´s son?" (Mt. 13:55) Joseph loved Jesus with a unique and exemplary love and played a unique and extraordinary role in the plan of salvation. This Jesus of Nazareth learned to work with wood from the hands of Joseph. During his 33rd year of life he saved the world working with wood, the wood of the Cross which became the altar of His Sacrifice.
      In popular language we sometimes use an expression to refer to men who are comfortable "in their skin" and content with being men. We say of such a man "He is a man´s man". Well, Joseph is a true "man´s man." He was a man of few words, he spoke through his actions, and he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded. We need fewer words and more action from godly men in this hour of need.
     Joseph was a man for others. Though the Scriptures say little about Joseph, even that absence speaks volumes. Why? Because to Joseph, he was not the one who was important, others were. He loved Mary above himself and his behavior was called "just" in the Scriptures as a result of his love. He was prepared to "do the right thing" when she was found to be with child. He could have chosen otherwise.
     He had a close, intimate personal relationship with the God of His Fathers. In fact, this "just" man was, in a sense, the last Patriarch, completing the lineage. Through his response of faith, He would receive the great gift promised for all men and women and hold in His arms the One that His fathers had only longed to see.
      God´s messenger, an angel, visited Joseph in a dream. He was ready to receive. He was disposed not only to the encounter but to the invitation it presented to pour himself out in love and for Love. He heard the message and, without hesitation, did what the Lord commanded! This is, in a real sense, Joseph´s "Fiat", his Yes, his exercise of human freedom to advance God´s eternal plan.
      Joseph was a humble man. There was not an ounce of false bravado or "machismo" in this servant of God. Named after the great Patriarch who was sold into slavery in Egypt; he bore the name with similar humility. As the Old Testament Joseph embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or "victim-hood" and actually came to rule Egypt, forgiving the very brothers who had sold him into slavery; so too this son of the Covenant embraced the One who would establish the New Covenant on the altar of Calvary. In so doing, Joseph is a patron and a model to all men who choose to walk the way of the cross in the footsteps of Jesus. Joseph poured Himself out -of himself - and became filled with the love and life of God.
      He gave himself fully to God through accepting his unique and specific vocation as a guardian of the Redeemer. The child Jesus, God in the flesh, was given to Joseph. A Carpenter, Joseph taught this child how to work with wood and as a Jewish father he taught him the Law. During these so-called "hidden years", Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph was with Jesus. Joseph uniquely participated in the mystery of Gods plan of redemption through simply being the man he was called to be. From the moment he said yes to the angel, he lived that "yes" for the Lord. How challenging an example he is in an age of narcissism and inordinate self-love.
     Over two millennia, the mission of Jesus has continued through His Body on earth, His Church. He has entrusted the work of that mission to all men and women who accept the invitation to empty themselves - of themselves - in order to be filled with the very life and love of God and then be used in His redemptive mission for the world. Through the Fount of living water called Baptism, he invites each one of us into His new family, the Body of His Son, the Church. He still gives His message to men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and then choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage.
      The Lord still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation with God and participation in His Divine plan. The Lord is truly looking for a "few good men" like Joseph who will work in the workshop of the world that he created in order to recreate it anew in His Son.
      In this age of the "anti-hero", men should rediscover this true hero, this "man´s man" named Joseph. Then, we should learn his way of obedience, following his example by courageously, humbly and faithfully loving Jesus Christ. We need to learn to give our "Yes" to the God whose Love always invites our participation. Joseph is our teacher on this way, a true 'Man´s Man', calling all men to follow Jesus.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


And a month for all mother's.  This month we celebrate Mary as a newly pregnant mother.  She has just agreed to be the mother of our Savior and has learned of her elderly cousin's pregnancy and is hurrying to visit Elizabeth.  This is the Feast of Visitation.
            This is also the month of another Visitation, the 150th anniversary of the visitation of our mother to three poor children in Fatima.  As with all her many visitations, Mary pleads for our prayers and repentance.  She warns us of the horrors to come if mankind does not repent.  And, like the ancient Israelites we don't repent.  And the horrors come and come again.
            God must wonder what else He can possibly do for us, his wandering children, to bring us back to Himself.  He gives us many rewards, a beautiful garden, and only one rule, only one don't.  And we do.  He tests us and we test him back.  Each time we fail the test, each time He passes the test.  He gives the consequences he promises, and the love He said He would never take away remains.  We ask on bended knee and He forgives us.
            Goodness comes again.  If famine strikes the land, He gives us an escape route, Egypt.  When we forget Him, we become slaves to our sin.  When we cry out to Him he sends us Moses.  When we wander in the desert without food or water, he sends us quail and manna.  When Moses dies, he sends Joshua.  Later he sends the Prophets, then the Kings, and when we are so very evil, he sends us into captivity only to rescue us again.
            Finally under Roman rule, when we have perverted the Law into pieces so minute no one could obey them all, He send his Son to teach us and to give us a simple Law of Love.  Do we change, well maybe a few, there were always a few who really believed.  His Son and his message were crucified.  On the cross He left us His mother.  Who can't love a mother?
            So yes, most of us love Mary, though some think she is just another mother and wonderful but not someone to pray to when we need help.  So He sends her in various centuries, in various places, with the same messages.  Repent.  Pray for Conversions.  Pray the Rosary.
            No matter how miraculous, unusual, mysterious,  or unexplainable the manner of the message, over time  it remains the same.  The manner is like the bells at Holy Eucharist, an attempt to draw our attention, "please listen, this is important.  Your very future is at stake!"  And yet, do we listen, do we even hear the bells anymore?  Is it all just so much smoke and mirrors?   NO!   


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Invisible, Incomprehensible, Incorporeal, Immortal

The very Son of God, older than the ages ,the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light or light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father:  he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.
                He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin.  He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor.  He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit.  Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.
               He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.  He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.  He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh.  He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.
               Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son.  The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.
               The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice.  When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.
               Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him.  The Word of God follows the bridegroom's friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.  We need God to take our flesh and die that we might live.                          Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop
               Who can comprehend the depth of the wisdom of God or the depth of his Love for us?  Before time began he planned to send his Son to us.  A Son who would give us all of himself for us.  Are we willing to give our total obedience to God?            kvs

Love Unites Us to God

Let the person truly possessed by the love of Christ keep his commandments. Who can express the binding power of divine love?  Who can find words for the splendor of its beauty?  Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us.  Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins, has no limits to its endurance, and bears everything patiently. 
Love is neither servile nor arrogant.  It does not provoke schism or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others.   By it all God’s chosen one have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him.  Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God’s will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life’s blood for us—he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.
See the, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection.  Who are worthy to possess it unless God make them so?  To him therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach.  Every generation from Adam’s time to ours has passed away; but those who by God’s grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed.  Take shelter in your rooms for a little while, says Scripture, until my wrath subsides.  Then I will remember the good days, and will raise you from your graves.
Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and it the observance of God’s commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins.  Scripture pronounces happy those whose transgressions are pardoned, whose sins are forgiven.  Happy the man, it says, to whom the Lord imputes no fault, on whose lips there is not guile.  This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.  (Saint Clement I, pope)
Are we truly possessed by the love of Christ?  Do we keep his commandments?  Do we act in harmony with others, or do we belong to cliques?  Do we harbor hard feelings because of the past?  Have we asked for the grace to have a love of God beyond reproach?  Have you?  kvs

He Prepares the Way

At Christmas Jesus was born a man; at His Baptism He was reborn sacramentally.  Then He was born of the Virgin; at Baptism He was born in mystery.  When He was born a man, His mother Mary held Him close to her heart; when He was born in mystery, God the Father embraces Him with His voice when He says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased:  listen to Him.  The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves His Son by His loving testimony.  The mother holds the child for Magi to adore; the Father reveals that His Son is to be worshipped by all the nations.
Christ was baptized not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by His cleansing to purify the waters which He touched.   For when the Savior is washed, all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.  Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after Him with confidence.
The mystery is this.  The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so they could follow on their journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed.  As the apostle Paul said, what was accomplished then was the mystery of baptism.  Clearly it was baptism in a certain sense when the cloud was covering the people and bringing  them through the water. 
But Christ the Lord does all these things; in the column of fire He went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of His body, He goes though baptism before the Christian people.  At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it gives light to the hearts of believers.  Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.
The path is clear.  In our Baptism, sins are cleansed and we became adoptive Children of God.  Do we live as God’s child?  Our Father God made it clear, “Listen to Him.”  Do we listen, or like the Israelites do we follow complaining, or worse go our own way ignoring His light, His path. 
With great thanks to Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop.   kvs