Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 18, 2013 — Joseph receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit — Knock and the door will be opened to you

Art: Le Songe de Saint Joseph / The Dream of St Joseph (1630-5) by Georges de LA TOUR (1593-1652), Musée des beaux-arts, Nantes

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent Lectionary: 194

Reading 1 Jer 23:5-8

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Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The LORD our justice.”
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Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD, when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives, who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”; but rather, “As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north”– and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.
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Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19

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R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son; He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be his glorious name; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
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Gospel Mt 1:18-25

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
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“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
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For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
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All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
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Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
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which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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There is no better example of the patient, loving father than Joseph. He awaits the arrival of the Christ Child and there is almost no mention of him struggling.
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Like Mary, Joseph is visited by the angel of the Lord and he hears the words of the prophet: “The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14.
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We should all be so lucky — and we can be. If we seek the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to come into us — we too will be ‘visited by the Angel of God.’
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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7: 7)
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Joseph has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit — and he never says a word that is recorded in the scripture!
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Joseph accepts his role completely and in silence. He leads the donkey into the darkness without complaint. He takes care of business and takes care of his family. And he doesn’t shout about it.
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Ask. “Give God Permission.” Then do.
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What the saints say about Joseph:
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More on St. Joseph:
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Related:
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection

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In Luke’s Gospel the story of the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Luke) is centred around the person of Mary. Here in the Gospel of Matthew the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew)is centred around the person of Joseph, the promised spouse of Mary. Joseph was of the descent of David. Through him Jesus belongs to the race of David. Thus in Jesus, are fulfilled the promises made by God to David and to his descendants.

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As we have seen in yesterday’s Gospel, in the four women, companions of Mary, in the genealogy of Jesus, there was something abnormal which did not correspond to the norms of the Law: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Today’s Gospel shows us that Mary was also somewhat abnormal, contrary to the Laws of that time. In the eyes of the people of Nazareth she appeared being pregnant before living with Joseph. Neither the people nor the future husband knew the origin of this pregnancy. If Joseph had been just according to the justice of the Scribes and the Pharisees, he should have denounced Mary, and the penalty which she would have suffered would have been death, stoning her.

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Joseph was just, yes, but his justice was different. Already beforehand he practiced what Jesus would teach later on: “If your uprightness does not surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5, 20). This is why, Joseph not understanding the facts and not wanting to repudiate Mary, decided to leave her in secret.

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In the Bible, the discovery of the call of God in the facts of life, takes place in different ways. For example, through the meditation of the facts (Lk 2, 10.51), through the meditation of the Bible (Acts 15, 15-19; 17, 2-3), through the angels (the word angel means messenger), who helped to discover the significance of the facts (Mt 28, 5-7). Joseph succeeded in perceiving the significance of what was taking place in Mary by means of a dream. In his sleep an angel uses the Bible to clarify the origin of Mary’s pregnancy. It came from the action of the Spirit of God.

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When everything was clear for Mary, she says: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word!” When everything was clear for Joseph, he takes Mary as his spouse and they went to live together. Thanks to the justice of Joseph, Mary was not put to death, was not stoned and Jesus continued to live in her womb.

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Personal questions

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In the eyes of the Scribes, the Justice of Joseph would be a disobedience. Is there a message for us in this?

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How do you discover the call of the Word of God in the facts of your life?

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Concluding Prayer

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For God rescues the needy who calls to him, and the poor who has no one to help. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the needy from death. (Ps 72,12-13)

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Peace and joy have often been associated with Christmas.  It is the hope of the world that with the coming of Christ, there will be true peace and joy.  Yet peace can only come about when we live integrated lives.  Indeed, the real reason for the lack of peace within ourselves is the lack of integrity in our lives.  By this I do not mean so much moral integrity but personal integrity.  In other words, we live fragmented lives.  We allow our lives to be dictated by endless demands made upon us, and then we get stressed and lose our sense of direction.  We become so caught up in our work, which seems never ending, so much so that we do not even have time for prayer.  When we are in this situation, then we are just like the Israelites in exile in Babylon to whom the prophecy was addressed.  Like them, we feel dispersed and scattered.  We are not at home, not living in our own soil, so to speak.  We become shaken and lose our confidence just like them.

How then can we regain our peace?  The answer is clear in today’s scripture readings.  The motif that prevails in both readings is the theme of integrity.  We need to live an integrated life.  But what does it mean to live such a kind of life?  This is where we are called to reflect on Joseph who was portrayed in today’s gospel reading as the just man.

We are told that he was a just man and a man of honour.  He did not want to do anything that would offend God.  Consequently when he found that Mary was with child, he understood that he could not be the father of the child.  He wanted to put Mary away not so much to protect her from an apparent wrong doing.  If that were so, then he would have been an accomplice to the crime since under the law, the penalty for adultery was stoning.  This would surely not be consistent with a just man like Joseph.  No, in his case, he felt that he was unworthy to be the father of Jesus.

It was this fear that the angel tried to allay by assuring him that he had a role to play in the messianic redemption.  He was to be the foster-father of Jesus and he had to name Him Jesus.  He was called to accept Jesus as a gift from God.  But more importantly, he was called to adopt Jesus as his son.  To speak of adoption, of course, is to speak about a relationship.  Joseph was called in a special way to relate with Jesus as His foster-father.  It is fundamentally a relationship of love and care.  By so doing, Joseph proved himself to be truly a just man.  He did what God wanted him to do.  Like Mary, Joseph was faithful to God in every way.  In this way, Jesus truly was born of the lineage of the Davidic dynasty and thus fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would come from a virtuous branch of the throne of David.

In a similar way, we can dare to posit that like Mary, who conceived Jesus in her heart and in her womb, Joseph too conceived Jesus in his heart.  In both Joseph and Mary, we can say that the Emmanuel was real for them.  Emmanuel, which means God is with us, was truly with them in a special way.  And because God was with them, they too were saved by Jesus, the name which means ‘God saves’.  And this was possible only because Joseph and Mary both lived lives of integrity.  They were one with God.  Conversely, Jesus was also one with them.  Jesus also lived a life of integrity, as Jeremiah prophesied of the future Messiah.  Jesus was both faithful to His divinity and humanity.  He wants to save us by being with us.  He wants to be with us so that we can be one with God.

Now what is true of Joseph and Jesus, is also true of those of us who are in leadership or in positions of authority.   What is the role of a leader or of parents if not to maintain the unity and integrity of those individuals and groups under their care? The task of a leader is not so much to dominate others, but simply to serve the interests of everyone and to guard the common good of the organization he or she is heading. Hence, those in authority would require the gifts of wisdom, honesty and integrity in order to act as true leaders of unity, like the messianic king Himself.

And in order to gain credibility and respect from those who are placed under our charge, we must first live lives of integrity.  This is what the prophet has to say about the messianic king ”who will reign as true king and be wise, practising honesty and integrity in the land.”  Only when leaders are living lives of integrity, can they earn respect and trust from those under their care.  This is what the prophet says, “In his days Judah will be saved and Israel dwell in confidence. And this is the name he will be called:  The Lord-our-integrity.”

Secondly, those in positions of authority must be one with their members.  This was the way of Joseph and Jesus.  The former was one with God whereas the latter was one with us.  Only in this way could a real relationship of love, understanding and care be forged.  Without this mutual identification, it would indeed be very difficult to speak of a loving and trusting relationship between authority and subordinates.  There can be neither trust nor confidence without mutual understanding.  Consequently, the leader would not be seen as the Emmanuel of God, but a tyrant and a dictator of the community instead.  Hence like the psalmist, it is important to pray for our leaders that God will endow them with justice, so that they can govern with fairness and integrity.  Of course what is said of the leader applies equally to the rest of the members as well.  All of us are called in our own way to live an integrated life, guided by those who are responsible for the overall unity of the organization and our commitment to God’s will.

In the final analysis, all these can only make sense when we are all one in mind in doing God’s will and searching for God’s will together.  The problem comes only when our will becomes more important than His.  Let us pray during this Advent season of grace that we might have the attitude of Joseph and Mary in their utter fidelity to God’s plan for them in their lives.  Once we have such an attitude, then we can be sure that our family, and whichever organization we are in, will be united and that we will all live in peace and integrity.  In such a house and community, we can truly say that God is with us – Emmanuel! 

http://www.csctr.net/reflections/

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