March 19, 2016


March 19, 2016:  St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Do you see nine connections with today?
Legend below

For the psalm

Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 5th Lenten sermon, continued from yesterday
One year from the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation (1517)
I want to consider our relationship with Protestants to show how everything impels us toward restoring Christian unity.  The Christian world is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the Reformation.  Let's not miss this opportunity by remaining prisoners of the past or pointing fingers; it's a moment to leap forward.  The situation has changed, but it's hard to notice.  The issues that provoked the original separation included indulgences and the understanding of justification.  But are they today's issues?  Cardinal Kasper observed that Luther's main problem was how to overcome a sense of guilt and find a gracious God, today the problem is how to restore the true meaning of sin since they've forgotten it.
I believe the faith/works discussion ended up making us lose the main point of Paul's message.  Paul wanted to affirm not that we're justified by faith but that we're justified by faith in Christ, not that we're justified by grace as but that we're justified by the grace of Christ.  Christ is at the heart of the message.  After presenting humanity in its state of sin, Paul had the courage to proclaim the situation has radically changed through redemption in Christ.  The assertion that salvation is received by faith, not works, is in the text and was the most urgent thing to bring to light in Luther’s time, when it was obvious that the issue was faith in Christ and the grace of Christ.  But we've reduced his far-reaching affirmation to a theological problem.  We're now called to rediscover and proclaim together the heart of Paul's message.
The person of Christ is at stake.  The apostles faced a pre-Christian world, we a largely post-Christian one.  Paul summarizes the Christian message saying not “We proclaim this doctrine” but “We preach Christ crucified” and “We preach Jesus Christ as Lord”; it's the article by which the Church stands or falls.  This doesn't mean ignoring the good the Reformation produced, especially its reaffirmation of the primacy of the word of God; rather, it means allowing the Church to benefit from its achievements once they're freed of excesses and hardening of positions due to the overheated climate of the time, and to political interference and later polemics.
The conclusion of the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Declaration on Justification says, "The understanding of justification shows we have a consensus about justification.  The remaining differences of language, theological elaboration, and emphasis... are acceptable.  Therefore the Lutheran and Catholic explications are open to one another and don't destroy the consensus regarding the basic truths."  John Paul II observed that it was time to stop making justification by faith a topic of dispute and seek instead to help all the baptized have a personal and liberating experience of this truth.
The Church needs to preach justification by faith in Christ with greater vigor than ever, not in opposition to “good works” but to the world's claim that it can save itself through science and technology or spiritual techniques people invented.  If the reformers were alive today, I bet they'd preach justification like that!  "Modern societies are built upon science.  They owe to it their wealth, power, and certitude that tomorrow greater wealth and power will be ours if we so wish....  [But] armed with all the powers, enjoying the riches they owe to science, society still tries to live by and teach values science has already blasted."  Sartre had one of his characters say, “I accused myself today, I alone who can absolve myself; I, man.  If God exists, man is nothing.”  Christians should respond to this kind of challenge saying we're not justified by works but through faith in Jesus Christ.”  (to be continued)
  • 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16  Lord to Nathan for David:  “I'll make your heir's kingdom firm.  He'll build me a house.  I'll be a father to him; he a son to me.  Your house and kingdom shall endure forever.’”
  • Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29  "The son of David will live for ever."  I'll sing the Lord's promises forever.
Colored because today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph;
no relation to the "coat of many colors" of another Joseph
  • Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22  The promise was made to Abraham, through the righteousness that comes from faith, that he would inherit the world.  He believed and hoped that he would become the father of many nations.
  • Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a  Mary, betrothed, was found with child.  Joseph decided to divorce her, but the angel said the Spirit conceived in her; take her and name him Jesus.  Joseph did as the angel commanded.
  • Lk 2:41-51a  Jesus, 12, went with his parents to Jerusalem, then stayed behind.  His parents returned and found him in the temple.  Mary/Jesus:  “Why have you done this to us?” / “Didn't you know I must be in my Father’s house?”  He returned with them and obeyed.
    • Creighton:  Joseph and Mary chose to spend the rest of their lives together.  When she told him she was with child, was he mad at God for shattering their dreams?  Joseph, just man that he was, loved Mary but had to follow the Law.  He decided to leave her quietly, sparing her public humiliation, even though he risked blame for being faithless and inconsiderate.  He was likely still troubled when he heard the angel in the dream.  Then in faith he took her into his house.  Joseph was open to receive God’s gift of being the person to help educate Jesus.  Joseph was not in control but trusted the One in control.  He was faithful to the God-given Law but open to God’s surprise.  Lord, give me an open and trusting heart, and courage to receive God’s gifts as Joseph did.
    • Passionist:  We know Joseph was a skilled craftsman and a just man who was serious about his calling of husband and father.  He underwent struggles, such as when he discovered Mary was pregnant; God spoke to him, and he obeyed.  Joseph was not only Mary’s loving husband, but he was also Jesus’ loving father, teaching Jesus well.  The Holy Family lived in an occupied country ruled by a cruel empire whose religious leaders were divided and fighting.  Joseph kept his family safe in the midst of the chaos.  We honor St. Joseph because he's such a good example for us.  In a world lacking moral compass, and where leaders don't respect the common good, we celebrate his fidelity to his ancestors' traditions, his openness to God’s voice, his love for his wife, his parenting of their son, and his justice and integrity.
    •  "Joseph did as the angel commanded him":  Faith and obedience go hand in hand.  Joseph is a model of faith and justice.  "The concept of 'just' here signifies one who possesses all the virtues.  By 'justice' one at times understands only one particular virtue, as in, 'the one who is not avaricious is just.'  But Scripture uses 'justice' for virtue in general; e.g., it refers to 'a just man and true,' or 'the two were just.'  Joseph is just, i.e. good and charitable" (John Chrysostom).  Joseph was a worthy successor to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he followed God's call through the circumstances surrounding the coming of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who fulfilled the promises made to Abraham and his offspring.  God entrusted him with the privilege of rearing, protecting, teaching, and training Jesus as a growing child.  Joseph accepted his role with faith, trust, and obedience to God; he's a a model for all entrusted with the care, instruction, and protection of the young.  Lord, increase my faith and trust in your promises and guidance.
    • Universalis:  St. Josephcarpenter who accepted God's will, supported Mary, reared Jesus.  Patron saint of universal Church; also considered patron of artisans and other workers.
    Dress legend
    • 'Castle' button:  Your heir shall build a house for my name.  (1st reading) (I know he wasn't talking about a physical house.)
    • 'Car' tie pin:  Mary & Joseph thought Jesus was in the caravan (gospel)
    • 'Question mark' tie pin:  Jesus was asking the teachers questions (gospel)
    • White shirt:  liturgical color for St. Joseph celebration
    • 'Angel' pin:  Angel appeared to Joseph
    • Tie with crowns:  I'll make David's heir's kingdom firm (1st reading)
    • 'Rock' tie pin:  God, the Rock (psalm)
    • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Mary conceived by Holy Spirit (gospel)
    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

    No comments:

    Post a Comment