January 3, 2021
+ Every since I was a teenager I always had a special devotion to St. Joseph.
I don’t know why I did.
But just liked St.Joseph.
He is kind of the quiet saint.
We don’t hear a lot from him in scripture.
But when we do, he packs a punch!
He just simply does what God tells him to do and just goes with the flow, despite how strange that flow sometimes is in his life.
And his life was a strange one!
Well, this morning, in our Gospel reading he is kind of the star of the show
It’s actually a pretty terrifying story.
An angel warns poor St. Joseph to get up, to take his wife and the child that was born to her, and to flee to a foreign land because the King wants to kill the child.
It kind of sounds like The Mandalorean.
And what does he do?
He does just that.
He once again hees the words of an angel, places all his trust in God, he takes up his family, and he goes.
This is why I like St. Joseph.
He never questions God.
He doesn’t complain or cry to God.
He just heeds God’s call in his life and does what God wants him to do.
Which is the reason St. Jopeph is so popular as a saint.
And for a quiet, obedient saint who doesn’t appear very often in scripture, we will be hearing a lot about St. Joseph this coming year.
As some of you might know, Pope Francis has declared this year—2021—the year of St. Joseph.
I think that is wonderful thing to do.
I think we should think of and ponder St. Joseph and his life.
Because we can learn a lot from him.
And he is a good example to all of us on how to be faithful to God, even when faced with extraordinary hardship.
For example, look at him the days following Jesus’ birth.
Already he has to deal with his fiancée becoming pregnant, dreams of divine beings who tell him what to do, a child (which is not his) being born under incredible circumstances.
And now, this.
Someone wants to kill this child!
Obviously, the child is special.
Certainly, as we put behind us that strange and difficult year of 2020, as we head into the great unknown of this new year of 2021, we find ourselves feeling somewhat like Joseph and Mary.
We too have feared for our own lives this past year.
But we know that as we go forward, like them, we are led by God.
God is calling us forward, calling us into our future, calling us to venture into the unknown.
We are also being called to do so with absolute trust in God’s mercy.
In this story, we find examples abounding of trust in God.
Mary also is a wonderful example of wholehearted trust in God.
She seems, at first glance, to be kind of a peripheral character in the story.
No more poetry is coming from her mouth as it did when she sang the Magnificat to God when the angel announced to her that she would be bearing this child Jesus.
There are no words at all from her in this story.
Why? Because she’s no doubt busy caring the Child Jesus.
But what we do find is that she is living out, by her very life, the “yes” she made to that angel when it was announced to her that she would bear this Child that she now holds close to her.
Mary is an example to us that, occasionally, when forces beyond our understanding begin to work, all we must do at times is simply and quietly heed God’s command.
There are times for poetry and there are times when poetry just isn’t needed.
When the Child—God’s own Son—was formed in her womb, how could she not sing out with beautiful poetry?
Now, with kings seeking to actually kill her child, she simply sits in quietness and awe—holding Jesus close to her.
We too should do the same as we enter into this uncertain new year.
There will be more living with this pandemic ahead of us.
But we know in our own lives, in this time in which everything seems to uncertain and up-in-the-air, we can go forward either in fear or in quiet confidence, like Mary.
We can do so, holding Jesus close to us, against our beating, anxious hearts.
Like her, we have choices.
We can go into that future, kicking and screaming, our heels dug in.
Or we can go quietly and with dignity, holding our greatest hope and joy to us as we are led forward.
We are hopeful as we put this long, difficult year of 2020 behind us and look forward to a hopefully much better year of 2021.
We know that it is not an easy future ahead of us.
It is not a future without pain and hardships and much more work to do, more miles to cover.
There are long days and equally long nights lying before us.
But that same future contains, also, joy and fulfillment and loved ones.
It contains resuming a normal way of life again.
That future contains laughter and moments of exquisite beauty.
That future contains love, in whatever ways it may come to us.
That future that contains the rest of this long, cold winter, also contains the spring thaw and a glorious summer.
So, like Joseph and Mary, let us get up and go where we must go, even into an uncertain future.
Like Joseph, let us heed the calling to also go wherever God leads.
Like Mary, let us be led into that future with quiet dignity.
Let us go, with hope and trust in our God leading the way.
And with God leading us, the future, we know, is more glorious than we, in this strange, uncertain time, can even begin to understand or appreciate.
Let us pray.
Holy God, like St. Joseph, may we heed what you speak to us, even when we are the midst of upheaval and uncertainty; like Blessed Mary, may we continue to say “Yes” when you call, and may we, like her, bear your Word within us; may we do what call us to do and may we follow Jesus, your Word made flesh, wherever he leads; in his whose name we pray. Amen.