Malankara World Journal Theme: St. Joseph
Volume 2 No. 113 December 13, 2012
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Table of Contents
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We are approaching the third week of (Western) Advent or fifth week of advent in the Orthodox Calendar (Dec 16). Next Sunday (Dec 23) is celebrated as the Sunday Before Christmas or Genealogy Sunday. The Syriac Yeldo Lent starts on December 15. The Malankara Yeldo Lent already started on December 1. It is the season when everyone is very busy, shopping for the gifts, attending parties, going for Christmas Carols, etc. etc. We hope that during this busy time of the year, you will spend a few minutes a day reading Malankara World, meditating and reflecting on the meaning of Christmas and advent. After all, what you gain, if you own the whole world but lose your soul?
This Sunday we remember Joseph, foster father or earthly father of Jesus. Joseph has the dubious distinction of someone who isn't quoted even once in the gospels! He was described as a 'just man'. He was a silent man who preferred to work in the background.
A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI explained the significance of the silence of St. Joseph:
St. Teresa of Avila was a big believer in the intercession to St. Joseph:
"To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity - but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth - for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him - so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience . . ."
It is very surprising that our church hasn't canonized Joseph, who played an important role in the God's plan for redemption of mankind. Here is a man who carried the son of God in his hands and guided and protected him; followed every direction of God without questioning and our church does not call him a saint?
We hope that this issue of Malankara World will reveal many unknown aspects of St. Joseph. He is particularly known for help in family problems, financial needs, protection of purity, defense against dangers, matters involving work or housing, and as Patron of a Happy Death.
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Revelation to St. Joseph
Before Holy Qurbana
This Week's Features
Virginia Owens in her book, 'And The Trees Clap Their Hands,' suggests that we lose the wonder of it all, because along the way everything becomes "merely." Things are "merely" stars, sunset, rain, flowers, and mountains. Their connection with God's creation is lost. During this Advent season many things are just "merely." It becomes "merely" Bethlehem, a stable, a birth -- we have no feeling of wonder or mystery. That is what familiarity can do to us over the years.
Owens goes on to say that it is this "merely" quality of things that leads to crime. It is "merely" a thing -- I'll take it. It is "merely" an object -- I'll destroy it. It is this "merely" quality of things and life that leads to war. We shall lose "merely" a few thousand men, but it will be worth it.
Within the Advent narrative nothing is "merely." Things are not "merely" things, but are part of God's grand design. Common things, such as motherhood, a birth, a child, now have new meaning. This is not "merely" the world, but a world that is charged with the beauty and grandeur of God's design. It is a world so loved by God that God gave his only Son.
What is so great about the Advent season is that everything appears charged with the beauty and grandeur of God.
Source: John A. Stroman, God's Downward Mobility, CSS Publishing.
by Pope John Paul II
On March 19, Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church. The extreme discretion with which Joseph carried out the role entrusted to him by God highlights his faith even more, which consisted in always listening to the Lord, seeking to understand his will and to obey it with his whole heart and strength. This is why the Gospel describes him as a "just" man (Mt 1,19). In fact, the just man is the person who prays, lives by faith, and seeks to do good in every concrete circumstance of life.
Saint Joseph and Fathers
Faith nourished by prayer: this is the most precious treasure that Saint Joseph transmits to us. Generations of fathers have followed in his footsteps who, with the example of a simple and laborious life, imprinted on their children's souls the inestimable value of faith, without which every other good runs the risk of being in vain. So even now, I am happy to assure all fathers of a special prayer, on the day dedicated to them: I ask God that they be men of a robust interior life, in order to fulfill their mission in the family and society in an exemplary way.
What we know about the life of Saint Joseph is contained in the gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. He has become known as the "Just man".
The name foster-father of Our Lord appears in local martyrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries. The first church dedicated in his honor was in 1129 in Bologna. Pope Sixtus IV(1471-84) added the feast of Saint Joseph to the Roman Calendar. Pope Pius IX placed the whole Church under the Patronage of Saint Joseph in 1870.
In 1989, Pope John Paul II reflected deeply on the life and witness of Saint Joseph in Redemptoris Custos ("Guardian of the Redeemer").
Among the saints known to have had particular devotions to Saint Joseph are Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Gertrude, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Saint Alphonsus and Saint Teresa of Avila.
As the Bible tells us, Saint Joseph was descended from the royal house of David. A village carpenter of Nazareth, he was chosen among all men to be the husband and protector of the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. To his loving care was entrusted the childhood and youth of the Redeemer of the world. He reveals to us the perfect model of Christianity through his purity of heart, patience, and fortitude.
Poor in worldly possessions, he was rich in grace. Devotion to Saint Joseph, was fervent in the East from the early ages, and has spread and increased. Today, Catholics of all nations honor him.
There are many stories about the miraculous intervention of Saint Joseph. One is a medieval account of how a famine in Sicily was ended after a Novena to Saint Joseph. A more recent story is of the mysterious "itinerant carpenter" who volunteered to build an architecturally unique spiral staircase in a convent chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is as sound today as when it was first built, and has never needed repair.
According to ancient tradition, Saint Joseph watches over and protects the Church. He is considered the model of perfect Christian life and the patron of a happy death. His patronage extends over the Mystical Body of Christ, over the Christian family and schools, carpenters, fathers, laborers, and all individuals who appeal to his charity and intercession, especially in the hour of death. Joseph, when dying, received the loving ministry of his foster Son, Jesus, and his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it is believed that his intercession may well obtain the mercy of God and the grace of a peaceful and holy death.
by Elizabeth Morris Downie
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph faced up to the fact that the girl he had promised to marry was pregnant, and not by him. . . Today, unwed mothers are common, and pregnant brides are not exactly rare. But for Joseph, the "righteous" thing to do, according to law and custom, would have been to dismiss Mary, refuse to honor the commitment he had made, and condemn her to life-long shame.
In the iconography of the birth of Jesus, Mary gets full play: Madonna and Child, front and center, perhaps the only distinct figures. Others are relegated to background status, shepherds, Magi, angels, even Joseph. But Matthew's gospel puts Joseph in the foreground. What does Joseph have to say to us today?
Most importantly, I think, he tells us not to take the easy path of pretense and denial. Joseph faced up to the fact that the girl he had promised to marry was pregnant, and not by him. It's hard for us to imagine the full impact of learning such a fact in that society. Today, unwed mothers are common, and pregnant brides are not exactly rare. But for Joseph, the "righteous" thing to do, according to law and custom, would have been to dismiss Mary, refuse to honor the commitment he had made, and condemn her to life-long shame. He could have felt very self-righteous doing so.
Joseph's righteousness, however, was deeper and more profound than simply observing laws and customs. It was a righteousness that grew out of God's presence in his life, a righteousness that allowed him to hear the angelic voice of his dream and obey its commands. As a righteous man, he could look directly at the reality which now confronted him, see it and all its implications fully, and do God's bidding without regard for his own reputation. He could accept the angel's word that the child was of the Holy Spirit; he could accept the duty, usually assumed by the mother, of naming the baby.
Matthew's narrative doesn't record a single word from Joseph, in marked contrast to Luke's record of Mary's "Let it be with me according to your word." Joseph just acts upon the revelation received in his dream.
Can Joseph's clear view of reality call us to open our eyes and act upon the revelations we have received? Too many Christians in America today are mired in pretense and denial. We pretend that everything is going to be OK when the crescendo of evidence that all is far from well grows to a deafening level. We effectively deny the reality of what we have allowed the economic and political structures of our country to become. We do our best to apply band-aids to the wounds right under our noses, with our food banks and other charities. But we refuse to see the systemic problems, and we refuse to address them. We would have to risk our comfortable positions in society, to give up what we have come to believe is ours.
Clearly the most dangerous of our coping mechanisms is denying our own roles as Christians in the public arena. When progressive Christians remain silent, there are no religious voices in the public arena except those of the far Right, and we are seeing the havoc they are wreaking in the lives of our least affluent sisters and brothers–under the banner of "moral values." We cannot remain wordless; we must speak up with the clear sight of Joseph and the willingness to risk all that Mary offered to God. Like these parents of the Christ Child, we look for the coming of the Commonwealth of God, and like them we must be ready to act.
About The Author
The Rev. Elizabeth Morris Downie is president of the board of the Episcopal Women's Caucus . She has also served in leadership for Associated Parishes for Liturgy & Mission, among other organizations.
by Tommy Burrus
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
I read the most unusual thing, and I wanted to share it with you.
We like Christmas stories that make us feel warm and peaceful, but the truth can be very tough. I got a call this week about a young man named Billy who had tried to take his own life. Someone else confided that their life felt like it was falling apart because of house maintenance problems, car repairs and personal issues that were strapping them financially and taxing them emotionally. Someone else I know received devastating news from their doctor today. Maybe your own situation fits in there somewhere. Those circumstances may better resemble the first Christmas for Joseph. To begin with, he must have felt like he had been kicked in the gut.
Joseph was a man hand-picked and personally prepared by God for a special mission, his life was not without its trials and tragedies. In fact, Joseph faced, weathered and overcame trials that would have derailed many other people. A quick look at what Joseph faced and how he reacted can help us as we seek to become all the Lord would have us to be.
I. REFLECTION-(Matthew 1:18-19)
Joseph and Mary were betrothed to one another.
The betrothal was like marriage except that the couple did not live together or have physical relations.
Oddly, today, people today live together and have physical intimacy without marriage
The betrothal period often lasted several months or longer.
During this time, Joseph discovers that Mary is pregnant.
No doubt, she shared with him her side of the story as the phrase "she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." But, who had ever heard of such a thing?
I do have to say that Joseph did better than I would have.
He obviously was upset by the fact that Mary was pregnant and the baby was not his.
I'm sure his pride was hurt. His dreams were crushed and his trust was broken
He probably went over and over in his mind about what she had done and what should he do about this situation.
While he had been busy preparing for their marriage, he must have thought she had been untrue.
Although he probably gave at least passing consideration to having her killed (which was applicable by law), he decided to handle things quietly and not disgrace Mary publicly.
He did not allow the circumstance to rule him or to dictate his character.
Hasty reactions usually lead to regrets. Joseph took the time to seek God in this trial
He was a just (righteous) man.
As he meditates, Joseph determines that he does not want to embarrass Mary publicly.
He does not want to see her stoned to death either.
He determines what would seem both merciful and reasonable, to deal with the matter privately.
He planned to divorce her quietly.
You can imagine Joseph laying this all before the Lord, asking Him what he should do.
Mat 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Joseph gets his answer.
Joseph is instructed that he is not to divorce Mary and he is not to have her stoned; but he is to take her to himself as his wife, and he is to embrace her child as if He was his own Son.
Joseph is told to name the Child, thus he is given the responsibility of caring for and of providing for the Baby Jesus. This man is handed a difficult task.
After hearing what is required in his task, Joseph learns the amazing truth.
The baby Mary carries is to be fulfillment of the greatest promise God ever gave to man, then, Joseph hears the angel tell him that this child is to be named "Jesus."
Why? Because He will be the One Who will save His people from their sins. His name will define His mission, "Jehovah is Salvation."
How would we react? Would we fly off the handle, would we say something that we would later regret? Would we act in the heat of the moment?
Take it to the Lord in Prayer - don't react, don't fly off the handle, take time to think, and take time to pray about these situations…
When you are upset, it is easy to shut the whole world out, including God.
When things are going terrible we often, in the back of our minds, blame God.
Once you decide that God is against you, then the next thing that happens is you stop listening to what God is trying to tell you.
Many times God has the answers to our situation but we do not hear it because we are not listening.
Joseph was given his instructions in a dream and he could have awoken and said, "well, that was just a stupid dream".
But, he realized that God was speaking to him.
Never stop listening and applying God's direction in your life.
God has a plan and that plan does include you.
God has given us many promises in the Bible and He will hold good to all of them.
God can do anything He wants even if it seems impossible to you.
God is still in control and is waiting for us to totally surrender our lives over to Him.
This was the real test-- knowing what God wanted and obeying.
This obedience would bring his own character into question as people counted the months.
Joseph simply obeyed God regardless of what other people were probably saying.
This type of pressure did not stop Joseph from doing what God said to do.
Joseph did not question God's instructions; he followed them.
The real test of spiritual maturity is not what a person faces in life, nor is it revealed in what they are called on to do.
The real evidence of the depth of a person's faith is seen in what they do with what they are handed.
It is one thing to be placed in a trial; but it is another thing altogether to respond to that trial in a proper manner.
It is one thing to be called to carry out a task for the Lord; but it is another thing altogether to do it without question.
In Joseph's response we are given a priceless glimpse of this man's testimony.
Many men would have walked away from the Lord and from Mary at that moment.
But, not Joseph! As soon as he awoke, he rose and carried out the command of the Lord.
Joseph is obedient - they head to Bethlehem, not just because they are to be taxed, but they head there to fulfill prophecy..
I wonder what went through Joseph's mind that night at the stable?
This isn't the way I planned it, God. Not at all. My wife giving birth in a stable? This isn't the way I thought it would be. A cave with sheep and hay? My wife giving birth with out family and friends around?
This isn't at all what I imagined.
Nazareth is five days' journey away. And here we are in a stable.
Did I miss something God?
Have you stood where Joseph stood? Caught between what God says and what makes sense. Have you stared into a sky blackened with doubt? Have you asked if you're still on the right road. If things haven't turned out like you thought they would, God may be doing something incredible.
by Leon J. Suprenant, Jr
In the Right Place
At the outset of St. Luke's Gospel, we read that part of St. John the Baptist's role in preparing the people for the imminent coming of the Messiah was to turn the hearts of fathers to their children so as to make ready for the Lord a people that was truly prepared for Him (Lk 1:17). In St. Joseph, we find a father whose heart is already exquisitely calibrated.
His heart is always in the right place, and God was able to accomplish great things through this eminently just and faithful man.
St. Joseph's fatherly heart jumps off the page throughout the rich, biblical accounts of Christ's childhood. Let's take a brief look at just one such familiar episode: the Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-52).
These verses may seem unremarkable at first blush, though as St. Joseph is carting the Holy Family from place to place in the first century we can be certain these journeys were much more onerous than a leisurely afternoon drive in the air-conditioned minivan. But even in his fidelity to the Jewish practices of his time, St. Joseph gives us a most timely lesson on the value of men being observant Catholics. Too often we find at Sunday Mass mom and the kids, but where's dad? St. Joseph challenges us men to allow our love for the Lord and zeal for our faith to set the tone for the entire family.
Real men go to church.
An Affirmation of Fatherhood
"Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously" (verse 48).
St. Joseph doesn't have any lines in this scene, but surely he has a leading role. We hear in Our Lady's words the great anxiety that overcame St. Joseph when he realized that Jesus was missing, and we can picture him looking frantically for his child.
Last year my daughter Abigail got separated from us while on a family outing at the zoo. It was one of the most terrifying moments I've ever endured as a father, and Abbie was only missing for about an hour. Try losing the Son of God for three days!
It's also significant that Mary refers to Joseph as Jesus' father, which surely reflected the common understanding of the people. As an adoptive father myself, I appreciate the affirmation of a father that transcends biological lineage. As Pope John Paul II commented in his 1989 apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer:
In this family, Joseph is the father: his fatherhood is not one that derives from begetting offspring; but neither is it an "apparent" or merely "substitute" fatherhood. Rather, it is one that fully shares in authentic human fatherhood and the mission of the father in the family.
Joseph accepts this fatherhood through the obedience of faith, even though he also knows that this child was conceived "of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:20). He exercises this fatherhood in complete docility to God's will and with superabundant love for mother and Child. As the wondrous events unfold around him, it's clear that St. Joseph does not have a complete understanding of what is going to happen next. Yet he always remains faithful in the present moment, and the Lord never fails to reveal to him what he needs to know at any given point in time.
As I've tried to translate this into my own life experience, I've understood this to mean that I must at all times remain attentive to God and available for my family. When things go wrong, it's typically because either I'm not paying attention, or I am serving myself and not my beloved family.
Mighty Love and Daily Solicitude
Women with careers often need to be affirmed regarding the beautiful vocation of motherhood, which too often — in subtle and not-so-subtle ways — is devalued in our society. Yet men need to hear a similar message regarding fatherhood, spoken through the humbly eloquent life of St. Joseph.
We might do great things in the world's eyes, but our primary vocation as married men is to be husband and father in the domestic Church.
This verse speaks of Jesus' return to Nazareth with His parents, but it's also true that St. Joseph committed himself to a hidden life in Nazareth that was recorded only in his beloved wife's heart as she delighted in her family's inner life.
St. Joseph didn't get rich, and he didn't build skyscrapers. Rather, as Pope Leo XIII summarizes, St. Joseph simply set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Child (Quamquam Pluries, 1889). He gave totally of himself to his family, and because of that he truly was a success, both in time and in eternity.
For those of us who wish somehow to be better, to be the godly men we were created to be, we do well to invoke St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, and to imitate his fatherly heart.
© Copyright 2006 Leon J. Suprenant
About The Author:
Leon J. Suprenant, Jr. is the president of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) and Emmaus Road Publishing and the publisher of Lay Witness magazine, all based in Steubenville, Ohio. He is a contributor to Catholic for a Reason III: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass and an adviser to CE’s Catholic Scripture Study.
St. Ephraim the Syrian on St. Joseph
St. Ephraim the Syrian puts these words in Righteous Joseph's mouth, as he is
holding Christ in his arms, in his Fourth Nativity Hymn which we sing on the Feast of the Nativity:
As St. Basil the Great taught, St. Joseph was both a protector of the Theotokos and the Christ and a witness to her purity. St. Romanos the Melodist has Panagia give this explanation to the Magi of St. Joseph's presence in her home:
Troparion (Tone 2)
Kontakion (Tone 3)
During the Liturgical Season of Advent, we walk through the great events of Christian history so as to inculcate them into our daily lives and offer their promise to the whole world. During Advent we are invited through our liturgical readings and practices, to clear away all that entangles us and open a space in our hearts, our homes, our relationships and our lives, for Love Incarnate to be born again. This is the season of lent and prayer. We are to spend part of our days reflecting and meditating on the events leading to the incarnation of our Lord, God's plan for redemption of mankind and the promise of His second coming.
To keep the Advent season in focus, Malankara World has developed a special supplement with daily reflections and bible readings. You are urged to read the daily meditations; reflect on those and pray. The season is also one of unconditional service. So, there are activities you can do on each day to make out advent meaningful. Please visit the MW Advent Supplement here:
Malankara World Christmas Supplement
by Dr. Joe McKeever
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Davidson
Dear Mother and Father,
I promised I would write just as soon as we arrived in Bethlehem and got settled.
We're here, but not quite settled yet.
[There's so much I want to tell you but can't. For one thing, I don't dare tell you we're in a stable where barnyard animals have been staying. We put in clean hay, but other than that, it's not the most sanitary place in the world. Mother would freak out if she knew.]
Here's what happened.
As you predicted, Dad, the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was arduous. Whether she was walking or atop the donkey, poor Mary had a hard time of it. But you know my sweet wife. No way was she going to complain. After all, she's the one who insisted that I bring her along.
[In future years, people will look back at this event and wonder why in the world we brought Mary all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and her almost due to give birth. The answer is this is one strong young woman. She was bound and determined to be with her husband when the Child was born. And since I was required to make this trip, we just threw ourselves on the care of the Lord and started out.]
We came to Judea through Samaria in order to shorten the distance, but as you know, there are still plenty of hills and hollows and the roads are rough and uneven. A couple of times kind travelers gave Mary a ride in their carts, but I'm afraid the jostling and bumping were small improvements over walking.
We're so thankful to have made it all the way to Bethlehem, because Mother, just as you predicted, Mary began having labor pains as we entered the town. Thankfully, we were able to find accommodations all to ourselves. It's private too, and that was a special blessing since we had an eventful evening, the baby coming and everything.
[Private accommodations, ha! If they only knew. If it's up to me, no one will ever know where we spent last night. I have to find a house as soon as possible.]
I'm so thankful for the instructions you gave us before we left, Mother. "Just in case," as you put it. You are so wise.
[I was like all new fathers last night, I'm afraid - more nervous and afraid than she was. But she told me what to do, and what do you know? Everything is fine. Thank you, Lord.]
Oh, I didn't tell you - it's a boy! And yes, he is beautiful. Literally, a Rose in Sharon, as old Solomon phrased it.
[And the Lily of the Valley, Bright Morning Star. Oh, they don't make enough words to describe this wonderful One from Heaven. Words fail.]
He's such a special child. You can almost see a glow coming from him. And no, I'm not saying he's an angel. He's much more than that!
[If they only knew this is not the exaggeration of the typical parent, but the literal truth. I am so blessed to have been chosen as this Child's earthly father.]
And Dad, I have to tell you, he looks like Mary's side of the family. I promise the next one will look like you and me.
[That was a good one, wasn't it? ]
By the way, we named him after that champion of the Bible, Joshua. Yeshua, we're calling him. You will recall the name means "The Lord Saves." We feel that's such an important reminder that the Lord is our only hope.
[Actually, it was the angel who named Him. We're just carrying out our instructions. But it's a perfect name for this One who has been sent for such a mission. In the future, people will call on that Name and be saved. They will sing hymns to that name, and call it the sweetest name on mortal tongue, sweetest carol ever sung, sweetest note in seraph song. Hey, listen to me - I'm a poet!]
I can hear Mother saying, "Quit dilly-dallying and tell me about Mary - how is she doing?" She's fine, mom. You'd never know this was her first. She can't stop smiling, actually. And beaming. This special lady has her own unique glow about her. I tease her about that. With her and the baby both beaming out such joy and radiance, we'll never be able to get any sleep around here.
Oh, we had unexpected company last night. Just about the time Mary and the baby were settled in to sleep, some fellows burst into the room all out of breath. I'll fill you in on the details later, but it seems they had been watching their sheep in the fields a mile or two out of town when suddenly, the skies were opened and all the angels in the universe sang to them about the birth of the Saviour. Pretty spectacular, wouldn't you say?
And what's more, the angels sent them here. To see us.
Think about that!
[Think about it? We've thought of nothing else since they came! How like the Heavenly Father to send a welcoming committee when His Son arrived. I get misty-eyed just thinking of it.]
Mary and I aren't quite sure what to make of it all, but those shepherds were not in doubt of anything! They had that look about them, like they had been to Heaven and back. Oddly, they didn't stick around, but burst out of here to tell others.
[And that, I understand! How could anyone sit on such news?! I want to tell everyone I see. But they wouldn't understand. For now, this is just for a few of us. In time, the Lord will want us to shout it from the housetops. I can't wait! It's tough bottling up such an announcement.]
We're surprised that no one else has come, the way the shepherds seemed to be telling everybody. And a little relieved, I have to say. It's not like we need a crowd here in this, uh, maternity ward.
Guys, I'm having those dreams again. You recall I told you about the dream when the Lord instructed me to marry Mary, that all this was His doing? That was so real, I've never doubted it, even if you did have questions about it at the time.
This one is the same, but different.
[Do I dare tell them?]
In this dream, the Lord seems to be warning me about something that is coming up. I promise to listen closely and drop you a note when we know. Unless He says otherwise, our plans are to return to Nazareth as soon as the baby is able to travel.
We expect to move into a house - and get out of this barn, so to speak! - just as soon as this census-taking business ends and the crowds move out. We'll keep you informed.
I'm sure I can find work to do here in the City of David. People can always use a good carpenter.
Don't worry about us, mom and dad. Just keep praying. Yes, the Lord is with us. He really is - in more ways than you can ever imagine.
[The Lord is with us! Emmanuel. Is He ever? "God in the flesh" - that would have seemed blasphemous not long ago. Now, it's the living truth! The Son of God is lying right there in His mother's arms.
I think I'm going to cry again.]
And yes - I can hear you asking - it's all right to tell people about your new grandson. But folks, don't be surprised if they all have a hard time believing all this. We're still working through it ourselves. You may just want to tell them we've had a baby and not get into the details. The time will come to tell everyone the whole story. Right now, it would not make sense to most of them.
The main thing is that we know the Lord is here, that He is up to something, and we are a part of it.
And that's about as exciting as it can get. Pray for us. We send our love.
Oh, Dad, by the way. Now that you've got a grandson, he will need someone to teach him how to fish, so take some time off from the carpentry shop, dig out your equipment, and brush up on those skills.
[He will be a carpenter and a fisherman. Wonder what else? Wonder what other plans the Father has in store for this amazing Child? I suppose we will walk by faith and find it out as He's ready to reveal it. Thank you, Lord. Oh, thank you, Father. We bless Your holy Name.]
Your loving son,
[About the Author:
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.]
Scripture: Luke 1:26-56
Parts 1 - 3 of this essay were published in Issues 110-112. This article examines the theology behind the statement that Mary is blessed. The author suggested that the grace received by Mary is due to the work of God. so, what is said about the blessedness of Mary may, in a certain sense, be said about the entire church. The question on the virgin's blessedness can be reduced to three questions:
We looked at point #1 in Issue 111. We will examine Point 2 in Issue 112. Point 3 will be examined in this issue.]
III. And now I want you to consider what the effect of God's blessing had upon Mary - and by her example what it should have upon you all.
A. First of all, you see that she believes what God has told her!
1. We see this in two places...
a. First, in verse 38 where she says:
"Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."
1) Understand what she has just been told! She has just been told that the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, who will bring eternal life to His people, is going to be conceived in her virgin womb!
She is astounded when she first hears this, and asks, "How can this be since I know not a man?" Gabriel explains to her quite simply that the Holy Spirit will bring about this conception - that with God nothing is impossible.
2) With this simple explanation, Mary believes.
She needs nothing more. In saying, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord," she presents herself as one who is completely resigned to what God has said. She remembers that she is here to serve Him and to bring glory to Him... she is His servant, God is not her servant.
In saying, "Let it be to me according to your word," she shows clearly that she believes what Gabriel has told her, even though it was such an extraordinary and remarkable thing! What was spoken is what will be done.
"Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord."
Mary has not believed a fairy tale! She has believed God's word and she will not be disappointed. God will do exactly what He has promised to do.
2. How I could wish that this childlike faith were more common among us than it is today!
a. How foolish are those who reject the virgin birth and try to explain it away because it goes beyond their understanding!
They do this in the name of intelligence and wisdom, but it is the greatest
b. Jesus says that you must have this child like faith in what God says if you want to be saved.
1) This does not mean you turn off your reason and your intellect!
Quite the contrary! It means you turn them on so as to stop suppressing the truth about the world as it really is!
You turn off your intellect when you try to suppress the One we all know. When you try to account for your existence apart from Him and you end up very confused...
When you try to live your life in isolation from Him - as if He does not exist; you end up very empty and barren.
2) What Elizabeth said of Mary is true of every human being who believes the Word of God...
"Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord."
So also the Scripture says very plainly:
Romans 10:8: "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
If you would have the blessing of eternal life, you must believe what God has spoken about His Son.
Do not think that God would not or could not save you. It is only a foolish excuse on your part because you do not want to turn from your sin and come to Him. You will not be disappointed if you do - you will be blessed! Come now, what is there really to lose if you serve Him?
TRANS> So first, you see that Mary believed what God had said and so should you...
B. Secondly, you see that Mary is filled with gratitude, joy, and hope in God's blessing!
After Mary speaks to her cousin Elizabeth, (who also expresses gratitude, joy
and hope in God's blessing)
1. First, look at how Mary is taken up with God here!
a. She speaks of magnifying Him and rejoicing in Him, not merely with her lips from her soul and spirit:
v. 46-47: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."
Hypocrites will say the words, but those who have received God's blessing rejoice and have high thoughts of God within.
b. She calls Him mighty because of the great things He has done...
2. Secondly, you see how she delights in what He has done!
a. First she speaks of how God has regarded her in particular so that all generations will call her blessed...
They will see what God has done for her in giving her the privilege of conceiving and bringing forth the Son of God from her womb...
b. Then she speaks of this as God remembering His mercy to His people...
That what God is doing in her - in her conception - is to bring forth His
promised salvation to His people...
c. She also speaks of those who are rich and full already -
3. Now I say to you - are you filled with the gratitude, joy, and hope of one who is the recipient of God's blessing?
Are you filled with the gratitude, joy and hope of one who is trusting in the Son of God who was conceived in Mary's womb that He might come and turn everything around for His people?
Have you come to this Saviour to receive this blessing?
Do you believe what God has said?
I am here to declare to you today in the name of Lord that there is no real blessing to be found apart from Jesus.
Like Mary, blessedness does not come because of what you are or do,
by Judy Williamson
Doing what we enjoy doing makes life less tedious. Think back to when you anticipated something fully and enjoyed the planning process as much as the actual event. When planning for something we enjoy doing, the day to day activities take on new hope coupled with the promise of a brighter future. Perhaps this is the effect of the force field surrounding a positive mental attitude. By lifting our mood from the tedium of the day to day, we not only peak our interest in the moment but anticipate our future in a positive light. And, we all know that what we think about we bring about!
I often reflect on Norman Cousins' book, the Anatomy of an Illness and how he treated himself with daily doses of humor. By tuning in to what makes us laugh it has been said that we are giving ourselves a massage from the inside out! And, in the process, we can assist in our own healing. This is one application of maintaining a positive mental attitude that really works in our physical well-being.
By watching comedies, humorous sitcoms, and listening to the funny acts of old radio personalities, we can life our spirits through laughter. Humor removes weariness, it sharpens our senses, it lightens our load, and it clears our minds. Just by laughing out loud, we are demonstrating to the world that we are cultivating a positive mental attitude.
It seems that adults laugh less and less. Laughter is becoming a lost art. People do not laugh out loud, but rather complain out loud. Sincere, not raucous, laughter possesses an infection that is contagious. People catch the laughter and allow it to overtake them as if they were catching something physical. Laughter awakens us to the brighter side of existence and reminds us that all need not be dreary and forlorn once we meet midlife.
Take the challenge of cultivating laughter daily. Watch something that makes you laugh and get accustomed to the feeling. Let your response grow by feeding and watering it daily. Like a new seed, it is just waiting to sprout with your care and encouragement. Perhaps the fruit of this laughter will be the tastiest treat that you have given yourself in a long time. Go ahead! Smile. Grin. Laugh. Laugh out loud! You will feel the better for it.
2 1/4 cups milk
Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add the rice, salt, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Cover the pan, and simmer gently until the rice is fully cool.)
Mix the rice thoroughly with the eggs, flour, baking powder, brandy, orange rind, raisins, and pine nuts.
Heat the oil to 375° F. for deep-fat frying. Drop the Frittelle mixture 1 tablespoon at a time into the oil. Cook a few at a time, keeping the Frittelle separate. Fry until golden brown.
Drain the Frittelle on paper towels. Serve them hot, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.
Yield: about 25 Frittelle
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
If there was one fact of our Christian faith which needs to be stressed today it is the need for a father in the family. At the center of the social revolution today is the attack on men, as husbands and fathers of families. Behind this revolution is the philosophy of Karl Marx. According to Marx, families are the invention of dictating males who created, what we call the family, in order to dominate women in human society.
The result has been disastrous. Most of the laboring force in America is women. Feminism is an epidemic that our popes tell us will destroy family life. Abortions are only the most tragic consequence of this plague.
I thought this introduction was worth making before we begin our conference on, "The Role and Responsibility of Fatherhood, St. Joseph as Model."
Men as Husbands and Fathers
Within the family community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.
In his wife, he is to see the fulfillment of God's intention, as expressed in the first book of the Bible, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." The Lord makes His own the cry of Adam, the first husband; "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."
At the dawn of creation, God made the human race as two genders, men and women. He told them to increase and multiply. He promised them a Redeemer after they had sinned. He assured them of His blessings, provided they responded to His divine will.
With the coming of Christ marriage was elevated beyond anything known before in human history. He restored marriage to its condition before the fall of our first parents. He told the Pharisees that a man may not put away his wife. Even if she is unfaithful, he cannot remarry
Pope John Paul II could not be clearer on the quality of love that a husband should have for his wife.
But that is only the beginning. The husband is to love his wife as mother of their children and love the children themselves. This love belongs to the very essence of fatherhood.
In countries like our own, fathers are encouraged to be less concerned with their family and less involved in the education of the children. Here the Church's highest authority tells us that fathers must restore what is God's revealed command: the role of the father in the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance. In this context, I think it is important to quote the exact words of Pope John Paul II.
"As experience teaches, the absence of the father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships. In contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, where there still prevails the phenomenon of machismo, or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships (Familiaris Consortio, 25).
Christ tells his married followers that they are to reveal and relive on earth the very fatherhood of God. On these premises, a man is called to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of his family. He will perform this responsibility by exercising generous, even heroic charity, for the life conceived under the heart of the mother. He must be deeply concerned for the education of his children. He must share with his wife the duty of training these children in the knowledge of their faith and their love for God. With God's grace, he must do everything possible to avoid division, and foster unity and stability in the family. With his wife, he is to be a channel of grace to his children, whom they have brought into this world in order to reach their heavenly destiny.
St. Joseph, Model of Fathers In the litany of St. Joseph, we say, "St. Joseph, Head of the Holy Family, pray for us." There is more hidden behind this invocation than meets the eye.
We know, of course, that Mary is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. We know that the Savior was not conceived of a human father. Yet the Church has never tired insisting on the fatherhood of St. Joseph in the Holy Family.
It is crucially important to understand that there are two levels to fatherhood.
There is the physical level of providing for the conception of a human body. In this sense, Christ did not have a human father.
But a father is not only to cooperate with his wife in generating a child. He is also to cooperate with her in rearing the offspring which his spouse brings into the world.
From all eternity, Joseph was destined to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin. They were truly married. Joseph was Mary's husband, and she was his wife.
Marriage is the most intimate of all unions between two human beings. It imparts a community of gifts between those joined together in matrimony. Consequently, in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as his spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life's companion, but also the witness of her virginity, the protector of her honor. No, by reason of his conjugal tie to Mary, he participated in her sublime dignity.
We cannot exaggerate the importance of seeing St. Joseph as the true spouse of Mary. Under God, he was to share in her unique role as Mother of the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.
St. Luke tells us that, on returning to Nazareth after Mary and Joseph found the young Christ in the temple, "Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men (Luke 2:52)".
What are we being told? We are being told that the Christ child constantly manifested greater wisdom as he grew in age. In God's mysterious providence, both Mary and Joseph contributed to this manifestation of greater wisdom in Jesus.
We return to our main theme: that St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood. We know only too well that a man can father a child in body without even being married to the mother of his offspring.
True fatherhood therefore, is not only or even mainly generating a human body in this world. It is also and mainly collaborating with the mother in developing the human soul for everlasting life in eternity.
How, then, is St. Joseph the exemplar of fatherhood? He is, to coin a word, the prototype of what all human fathers should be. They should reflect, in their families the seven virtues which the Church specially honors in St. Joseph's relationship to Jesus and Mary.
Like Joseph, fathers should be:
by Fr. Joseph Lienhard, S.J.
St Joseph represents the last of the Old Testament patriarchs. For seventeen hundred years, even since God said to Abraham, the first of the patriarchs, "Go forth from the hand of your kinsfolk and from your father's house" (Genesis 12:1), God has been calling His people forward, calling them out of themselves into His way. St. Matthew traces Jesus' lineage from Abraham through David to Joseph - that is, from God's first call to faith, through His promise to make David's royal throne firm forever, to the man designated to be Mary's husband and Christ's foster-father.
When we encounter Joseph in the Gospel, we encounter a man who lets God rule his life, a man who does not demand his own way, a man who let God call him forward. He took Mary into his house when an angel told him to do so; he led Mary and Jesus to Egypt when they were in danger; and when he found Jesus, at the age of twelve, in the Temple, he accepted the words, "Did you not know that I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2: 49).
If we are true Christians, there is something of Joseph in each of us, something that says, God directs my life, and that's how it ought to be. St Joseph, pray for us!
Most merciful Father, call me out of myself and direct my life that I may love and serve you like St. Joseph.
About The Author:
Fr. Joseph T. Lienhard, S.J is professor of theology at Fordham University, where his area of specialization is early Christian theology; his particular interests are Origen, St. Augustine, and the history of biblical exegesis.
Source: Magnificat Lenten Companion
In some parochial schools, students are taught that lying is a sin. However, Instructors also advised that using a bit of imagination was OK to express the Truth differently without lying. Below is a perfect example of those teachings:
Getting a Hairdryer Through Customs.
An attractive young woman on a flight from Ireland asked the Priest beside her, 'Father, may I ask a favor?'
'Of course child. What may I do for you?'
'Well, I bought my mother an expensive hair dryer for her birthday. It is unopened but well over the Customs limits and I'm afraid they'll confiscate it. Is there any way you could carry it through customs for me? Hide it under your robes perhaps?'
'I would love to help you, dear, but I must warn you, I will not lie.'
'With your honest face, Father, no one will question you.'
When they got to Customs, she let the priest go first.
The official asked, 'Father, do you have anything to declare?'
'From the top of my head down to my waist I have nothing to declare.'
The official thought this answer strange, so asked, 'And what do you have to declare from your waist to the floor?'
'I have a marvelous instrument designed to be used on a woman, but which is, to date, unused.'
Roaring with laughter, the official said, 'Go ahead, Father. Next please!'
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