Monday, December 20, 2010

The Last Week of Advent - December 18th

Today our gospel passage introduces us to St. Joseph.  St. Joseph, it tells us, was a righteous man.  St. Matthew's audience was primarily Jewish, and they would have understood that term in its proper context.  To be righteous meant to carry out the law of Moses fully and faithfully, and that his life was judged to be pleasing to God.  Our gospel though, goes beyond, and tells us that not only was St. Joseph a righteous man, but he was a holy man as well.  If he were perfectly observant of the law, he would have been well within his rights to expose Mary to public humiliation perhaps even to stoning when he found her to be pregnant, and knew that he was not the father.  His concern however was not for his own wounded pride, his concern was for Mary, and so he planned to dismiss her quietly.  This humility, this concern for Mary's well being over his own, shows forth that deeper holiness, a holiness no doubt born from a deep life of prayer, which is probably why St. Joseph not only recognized God's word in the dream, but carried it out without question.  We too are called not just to live out the externals of faith, but to true interior holiness, a holiness that looks to the good of others over ourselves, a holiness born out of a real prayerful relationship with God.  St. Joseph was not a rabbi, not a religious scholar, he was a carpenter, a working man.  Prayer is not just for priests and monastics, it is for all of us, to grow in our relationship with God.

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