Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pope and St. Joseph

It was a WOW moment.  A week ago I was sitting at the dining table in a small community near Boston College waiting to retrieve a Jesuit back to Campion.  With two hours to kill it seemed reasonable to work on a lecture.  Opened computer and decided to check on the status of the smoke.  WHITE.  OK, I'll start to work on the lecture once the new Pope is announced.  Then came the announcement.  A JESUIT!!!!!  I went out of my seat with the kind of energy usually reserved for Penn State touchdowns in big games.   That was the end of the lecture prep.

It is still a wow.  I was thinking this morning that the Pope and I have a few things in common.  We both made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  More remotely, there was a day when we realized our vocation to the Society and there was the day we walked into the novitiate, approached the altar two years later to pronounce vows and then continued with formation.

As I said, WOW.

Got asked to celebrate one of the community Masses yesterday for the Solemnity of St. Joseph about 11 hours before Mass.  A bit of a challenge to get the homily together.  As I woke at 4 AM I watched the inaugural Mass.  And quoted the Pope's homily five hours later.

The Solemnity of St. Joseph
Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Matthew’s account of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth is less detailed than Luke’s.  It is also lacking the splendid prayers we hear in Luke.  But, Matthew’s narrative is brimming with human drama and pathos.  We learn of Mary’s fear.  And we are told of Joseph’s consternation that caused him to plan a quiet divorce.  Joseph’s anxiety and concern were put to rest by the angel who appeared to him in a dream, “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 

Not one word is attributed to Joseph anywhere in scripture.  We know that he was righteous only by his actions.  We know that he was righteous through his willingness to do what God commanded without qualm or quibble.

Mary’s yes at the Annunciation, “Let it be done unto me according to your word,” changed the history of the world.  The sound of that yes continues to reverberate throughout the universe up to the present moment.  And it will do so for eternity.

Joseph’s yes was silent. It was no less important.  It too continues to echo through the universe.  But it does so as example rather than sound.  Joseph was righteous because, like Mary, his obedience to God was immediate and unquestioning.  Later an angel would again come to him in a dream. In his obedience, in his role as protector of wife and child, Joseph would take his young family to Egypt for an extended exile that would last until Herod’s death.  The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not easy.  The trip to Egypt was probably even more difficult.

The Holy Father commented on Joseph in the homily at his inauguration this morning, "How does Joseph exercise his role as protector?  Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand."

Joseph did what had to be done without question.  “That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Random photos.  We had more snow today but it was not possible to get out with the camera. 

The snow from a fourth floor window at Campion.
The snow contrasts with the rain soaked rose during the long retreat (two years ago now) at Sevenhill.

Feeding pelicans fish guts in Port Lincoln.  I was fascinated watching the birds catch the offering the fisherman tossed into the air for them.  They were swarming around. 

Apples at the Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia.
Bees doing their thing at Campion Center last summer.
Frosted glass in Clare, South Australia taken on a break day during the long retreat. 

And finally, the ceiling at a temple at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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