Striving for Righteousness

Today, our “O Antiphon,” our expression of desire and longing is this:

O Adonai, O Lord of the House of Israel
Giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai
Come to rescue us with your mighty power

In its own way, if Sunday December 26 2021 is Holy Family Sunday, then perhaps this weekend is “Holy Couples Weekend.” Our gospel for tomorrow is about Mary, a mother’s story, as we see her set out to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Today our gospel is the Father’s story – the narrative of the angel’s message to Joseph as he ponders what to do now that he knows Mary “was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph…since he was a righteous man, [was] unwilling to expose her to shame, [and so] decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” (Mt 1:18-20) It was not the way he hoped to start their life together.

But such as the plans of men. The plans of God are quite different and are inevitable – even if it needs an angelic messenger to give it all a boost in the form of an invitation to take Mary into his household. Being a righteous man, Joseph agrees, never having a clue as to what would unfold: the trip to Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt, years of exile, only to later return.

But isn’t that the way for we who would strive for the grace of righteousness in our life, discerning God’s plan for us, all the while never knowing if “flight and exile” are in our future. What we know is in our present we possess the promise and power of God. St. Joseph understood that. May we come to know that in a deep and personal way.

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