Monday, December 23, 2013

Pope Francis: Follow The Example Of Joseph

At midday the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, and reflected on the Gospel reading of this fourth Sunday of Advent, which relates the events preceding the birth of Jesus from the point of view of St. Joseph.
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth but they did not live together, as they had not yet celebrated marriage. However Mary, after receiving the annunciation from the Angel, was with child through the work of the Holy Spirit, and when Joseph discovered this, he was perplexed.
The Gospel does not explain his thoughts, but it tells us the basics: he seeks to do God's will and is ready to make a radical renunciation. Instead of defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chooses a solution that represents, for him, a great sacrifice. And the Gospel tells us that Joseph, 'being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly'. This short sentence encapsulates a real inner drama, if we consider Joseph's love for Mary. But, as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervenes: 'Joseph, son of David', he said, 'don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'.
The text, continued the Pope, shows us the greatness of St. Joseph's soul. He was leading a good life and had plans, but God had other plans for him, a greater mission. Joseph was a man who always listened to God's voice attentive to the messages that came from the heart and from on high. He did not insist on pursuing his life's plans, or to allow resentment to poison his soul, but rather was willing to place himself at the service of the novelty presented to him in this troubling way. He did not hate, and he did not allow resentment to poison his soul.
“But how often do hate, antipathy and resentment contaminate our souls! Never allow this to happen!‡ exclaimed the Holy Father. Joseph is an example of this. And in this way, he became even freer and greater. Accepting himself in accordance with the Lord's plan, Joseph finds himself fully, and goes beyond himself. This freedom of his, to give up all that he has and to renounce his own existence, and his full inner openness to the will of God, challenges us and shows us the way.

We therefore celebrate Christmas contemplating Mary and Joseph: Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself totally to God's word; Joseph, the faithful and just man who preferred to believe in the Lord instead of listening to the voices of doubt and human pride. With them, we walk together towards Bethlehem.

A group of demonstrators protesting to the Italian authorities about the difficult current economic situation was also present in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis noticed the large banner they were carrying, and commented, following the Angelus prayer, I see there, written in large letters, 'The poor cannot wait'. That's nice! And this makes me think that Jesus was born in a stable, not in a house. Afterwards he had to flee to Egypt to save his life. At the end, he returned to his own home, in Nazareth.
And I also think, today, reading this banner, of the many families who are without a home, either because they have never had one, or because they have lost it, for various reasons. Family and home go hand in hand. It is very difficult to raise a family without a home. In this Christmas period I invite all
“ individuals, social organisations, authorities “ to do everything possible to enable every family to have a home.
To those from Italy who are gathered today to demonstrate their social commitment, may you offer a constructive contribution, rejecting the temptations of conflict and violence, and may you always choose the path of dialogue, in defending rights.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a Christmas of hope, justice and fraternity, concluded the Pontiff.

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