Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this last Sunday of Advent we see how Joseph is open to God and how he is prepared to receive this Good News from him with joy. He was an inwardly watchful man who was sensitive to the movements of God in his heart. The message he received is overwhelming and therefore demands an extraordinary and courageous faith. Is it possible for God to really act this way? He had already reflected on what to do to protect Mary, but what was announced to him surely surpassed anything he could have dreamed. He had this ability to discern if it was just a dream or was God truly speaking to him. Only a man of faith could do so.
The situation of Mary and Joseph was very seriousness. A betrothal is not an engagement; it is a real marriage even though the couple does not live together. To break this marriage required a divorce. So Mary and Joseph were in a very humbling situation, and could have been punished by the law.
What does the angel say to Joseph? He is called son of David, which means the child will be a descendant of Israel’s greatest king. And then he receives the same message as Mary: do not be afraid! He says this to us also. Don’t be afraid to speak of God during these days. To read one of the gospels and to reflect about it and to speak to the kids and the grandchildren about this marvel: God has become one of us.
The angel tells Joseph that he will name the child, which means he will be the father in all ways but one. Joseph will rear him, will teach him his trade and his prayers, and take on all the responsibilities of a dad. Then the angel says this child will save people from their sins.
Wait a minute! The people may have expected that the Messiah would have restored their kingdom, freed them from the Romans, and brought them great prosperity. They were not thinking too much about being freed from their sins. Perhaps we are the same. How much of a priority do we honestly give to our own salvation?
In another gospel four men are carrying a paralytic to Jesus and the house entrance is so crowded that they lower him down through the roof. The first thing Jesus says to the man is: my son, your sins are forgiven. How shocking; they must have been very surprised. We really wanted this man to walk again and were not thinking about his sins. It was the last thing they expected him to say. Who can forgive sins but God they thought?
Then Jesus reading their minds said: to show that I have the power to forgive sins (he said to the paralytic) stand up and walk, and he did so. Jesus clearly was making a point: the forgiveness of sins is the foundation of all true healing. If you relationship with God is disturbed, so will all your other relationships. If not healed there, in that relationship, you will not be truly healed. God wants to be reconciled with each one of us, especially at this time of the year. Let us take advantage of the opportunity before or after this Christmas and receive the forgiveness that only comes from God.
The parish is grateful to those parishioners and friends who generously donate to help meet our needs. Although our renovation costs and utilities are high, our budget is as modest as we can make it. The parish relies especially on Christmas offerings, which can be made directly or through our online WeShare at https://stjosepher.churchgiving.com
Your help makes it possible for us to meet the needs of the parish and to do the work of evangelization.
Thank you for all your support especially in these closing days of the civil calendar.