MOTHER MARY AND JOSEPH AS MODELS FOR ADVENT
Recently, when Fr. Joseph Luzindana was to Mary as the first personified figure of the Advent to teach us how to wait for the Lord. In addition, while giving us a recollection of Advent he pointed to Joseph as another model for Advent. I have therefore chosen these two figures to guide us during this 2nd week of Advent.
Why Mother Mary
With her response to the Angel: “I am the hand maid of the Lord…! (Luke 1:38), Mary models for us the first advent when, she fully accepted to give birth to baby Jesus, first through her faith, and then through her flesh. Her humble Yes therefore, becomes a guide on our own pilgrimage of faith and her silent contemplation of the mystery of the incarnation challenges us to create silence in order to listen to what God is saying to us, ponder it, and act upon it.
Mary’s action of reaching out to her cousin Elizabeth, is a clear expression of her understanding of the gift she bears that is Christ whom she willingly takes to her sister. She thus challenges that we have the best to offer to the other, and we may not need to worry so much of what to buy or give, we have Jesus with us and we can share the virtues that He has given us, for example; love, care, concern, and forgiveness. The list can be endless.
Why St. Joseph
In the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25, “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived.” Such invitation meant that Joseph had to change his plans and embrace God’s plan. What does this teach us in this advent?
The first lesson of St. Joseph for Advent is to enter into the silence of God. Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter Patris Corde says: “Joseph’s patient silence was a prelude to the concrete expression of trust,”(No.7). Joseph was not silent because he had nothing to say but wanted to listen and follow God completely. Perhaps this Advent, we too can spend time in silent prayer, contemplating the Word of God and drawing meaning from it.
The Second lesson that St. Joseph teaches us is to be rooted in service and self-denial. Pope St. John Paul II in his 1989 apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer”), expresses that: His fatherhood is expressed concretely in “his life service, a sacrifice to the mystery of the incarnation and the redemptive mission that is connected with it. In other words, he did not allow his own passions or selfish wants and desires to dictate his action but was rather docile and receptive to the will of God. Joseph, therefore, invites us to be disciples who serve others first not ourselves.
The third lesson that St. Joseph offers us is simplicity. Joseph was not out to “make a name” for himself but his greatness was talked about by Pope Benedict, in an Angelus address from March 19, 2006, when he said; “His (St. Joseph’s) greatness, like Mary’s, stands out even more because his mission was carried out in the humility and hiddenness of the house of Nazareth. Moreover, God himself, in the person of His incarnate Son, chose his way and style of life – humility and hiddenness –in his earthly existence.”
St. Joseph further teaches us the values of sacrifice and in Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippine’s book “The Mystery of Joseph,” elaborates on Joseph’s suffering saying: “There is no doubt that the sword of sorrow penetrates Mary’s heart most deeply, but it pieces joseph’s heart as well. It is through their common suffering that Mary and Joseph enter more deeply into the intimacy with the Lord.
May St. Joseph whom Pope Francis talks of as one with “creative courage” intercede for us to gain the same courage that enabled him to turn his challenges into possibilities as he constantly relied on Divine Providence. Amen.
Mary Grace Nakato RSCJ