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Fourth Sunday of Advent – 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.


Saint Joseph,

You will be my Protector, the Custodian of my heart,

and will keep the keys of my will in Your hands.

You will keep my heart jealously, and will never give it to me again,

that I may be sure never to go out of the Will of God

(Luisa Piccarreta)

Dear brothers and sisters, Fiat!

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel according to St Matthew recounts the birth of Jesus from St Joseph’s viewpoint. He was betrothed to Mary who, “before they came together… was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit”. The Son of God, fulfilling an ancient prophecy , became man in the womb of a virgin and this mystery at the same time expressed the love, wisdom and power of God for mankind, wounded by sin. St Joseph is presented as “a just man”, faithful to God’s law and ready to do his will. For this reason he enters the mystery of the Incarnation after an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, announcing: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”. Having given up the idea of divorcing Mary secretly, Joseph took her to himself because he then saw God’s work in her with his own eyes.

“Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife”. These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as St. John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and mode

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness! (Pope Francis)

In the most difficult moments of Joseph’s life (to take Mary as his wife, the Flight into Egypt, the return from Egypt itself) there is always the same pattern: he dreams, he wakes up and goes! This means that he knows to be with all of himself in mystery, but he never insisted on telling God what to do, he was never “scandalized” by God and thus he could see His faithfulness and experience first hand His prodigies. But how did he do? Perhaps the answer is easy: he took God seriously! Joseph, without chatting, but through his life , made his profession of faith, and announced that he believed in the Lord, that the Word of God is worth more than what I can see with my eyes.

One day Jesus said to Luisa how the Holy Family lived in Nazareth and how the Divine Will reigned in it.

Certainly Jesus had the Kingdom of His Will during His hidden life. As the Sovereign Lady possessed His Fiat, He was the Divine Will Itself, and Saint Joseph, in the middle of these seas of endless light – how could he not let himself be dominated by this Most Holy Will?’

The Divine Will reigned in the house of Nazareth on earth as It does in Heaven.  Jesus and The Celestial Mother knew no other will, and Saint Joseph lived in the reflections of Their Will. But Jesus was like a king without a people, isolated, without cortege, without army, and Mary was like a queen without children, because She was not surrounded by other children worthy of Her to whom She could entrust Her crown of queen, so as to have the offspring of Her noble children all kings and queens.

The King of Heaven when He came to earth had the sorrow of being a king without a people; and if those who surrounded Him could be called a people, it was a sick people – some were blind, some mute, some deaf, some crippled, some covered with wounds. It was a people that gave Him dishonor – not honor; even more, it did not even know Him, nor did it want to know Him So, He was king only for Himself, and His Mother was queen without the long generation of Her offspring of royal children.

But in order to be able to say that Jesus had His Kingdom, and to rule, He had to have ministers; and even though He had Saint Joseph as prime minister, one minister only does not constitute a ministry. He had to have a great army, all intent on fighting to defend the rights of the Kingdom of the Divine Will; and a faithful people that would have, as law, only the law of God’s Will.

So, on coming upon earth, Jesus had not the Kingdom of the Fiat it was a Kingdom  of heaven only, because the order of Creation and the royalty of man were not restored. However, by Jesus and Mary living wholly of Divine Will, the seed was sown, the yeast was formed, to make the Kingdom of the Divine Will arise and grow upon earth. Therefore, all the preparations were made, all the graces were impetrated, all the pains were suffered, so that the Kingdom of the Divine Will might come to reign upon earth. This is why Nazareth can be called the point of recall of the Kingdom of the Divine Will.”

Like Mary, the Virgin who conceived by the power of God, said her generous, humble and complete “Fiat”, also for us, God says “Fiat” to man.  Man is called to fulfill his own aspirations and to access salvation, saying his “Fiat” to God. So it is a “Merry Christmas”!            don Marco

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