Thursday, April 14, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent

The fourth week of Advent is usually the shortest week before the feast of Christmas. This year however is different… this year we have to wait a whole week before the big day. To some of us perhaps these last few days before Xmass are starting to look frantic; travel plans need to be completed, presents need to be wrapped, cards need to be mailed, cookies need to be backed… it feels like one week is not just enough!
Every year during our Advent journey the Church encourages us not to lose ourselves in the frantic pace of this time but to keep our eyes in what really matters, what is really important. For the last two Sundays we have heard about John the Baptist, a voice crying in the desert “make straight the paths of the Lord”. During this time the Church has used his voice to plead with us to remember what the real reason for Christmas is. The birth of our savior and the promise that some day he will return again for His Church… and every year some of us get to this last few days of advent thinking that there is still so much to do!
So this week, just as we get closer and closer to the celebration of Xmas, just as things are about to become more hectic… the Church changes the tone and gives us another man in the Sunday readings, to help us walk the rest of the way.
Today we meet someone completely different to John. We meet, St. Joseph the quiet carpenter of Galilee, the foster father of Jesus. Someone we can all relate to; a hard working man, protector of the holy family. A humble and simple man with the greatest responsibility ever, to teach the Son of God how to be a Man. Joseph is not like John, he speaks no words, but in his silence he resounds as loudly as John the Baptizer cries in the wilderness.
In this last week of advent, a time in which we can easily loose ourselves in the stress and anxiety of this season he comes to us with a fatherly and simple message: “Measure twice, cut once”
You see Joseph was first and foremost a craftsman, someone used to work with his hands, someone who recognized the value of quiet patience and careful consideration. I’m sure there are many craftsmen and women here today that understand the wisdom of quiet reflection before getting committed.
In today’s reading we can clearly see that for St. Joseph these were more than words, this it was a way of life! As the careful craftsman he was he applied this lesson to his whole life. You see, it is apparent that Joseph loved Mary deeply, and that when he heard about Mary’s pregnancy he began to struggle with what to do. He could react badly and report Mary’s pregnancy to the authorities. This was his right, but after careful consideration he chose the most sensitive course of action, an action that would satisfy his honor as a man and safe guard Mary’s dignity and perhaps even her own life. He chose to divorce her quietly and protect her from the authorities.
The careful craftsman measures twice and cuts once. The careful Christian thinks about what they are going to do or say twice and them make sure that their actions reflect the lessons of the Gospel, that their words and actions are sensitive and do not hurt or embarrass others.
And I think, my brothers and sisters that especially ina time in which people are so stressed by all the things that still need to be done, St Joseph example is one we can all follow.
During this season in which we have to deal perhaps with stressed bosses or teachers, with coworkers or even strangers in the street, a time in which we might meet with relatives that somehow manage to get the worst out of us let us Measure our words and actions twice before we do or say something we might regret later.
It is very easy to do or say the first thing that comes to mind, but to stop and think twice before we act, and to always follow the way of the Gospel, which after all is the way of unconditional love, that my brothers and sisters is following St. Joseph’s example, that is what is means to be a follower of Christ.
So in this week in which I know many of us will have an opportunity to put these words into action let us pray that through the intersection of St. Joseph, protector of the holy family and the Church, we can follow the example of this quiet and humble man, So that we have a joyful and peaceful Christmas and be a blessing to all those who we might encounter this season. Amen