One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

December 30, 2007

For the Feast of the Holy Family, Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

[It was not my turn to preside and preach at Mass today in the monastery. Here is a homily I wrote a few years ago.]

Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Colossians 3:12-21

In the celebration of the Mass, Christ continues his presence and his work in the world: giving worship to the Father and bringing salvation to us.
Today’s Mass celebrates the family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and their role as a family in our salvation and our worship.
We know well the personal role of our Lord Jesus Christ in our salvation and our worship.
Through baptism we have entered into the perfect worship that he in his person, his life and his death offers to the Father.
In that very worship, he also is our salvation personified, for in him the Father raises us from the dead and seats us at his own right hand.
Today, we also give special attention to the personal role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the mother of our salvation and the mother of our worship.
The Son of Mary is God himself.
To call Blessed Mary the “Mother of God” is to testify to the real, flesh-and-blood birth of God in person.
Blessed Mary is unique in giving birth as a VIRGIN and in giving HUMAN birth to GOD.
St. Joseph, her husband and the foster father of Jesus, is also unique.
He receives all the messages of God while he is asleep; and when Joseph awakens we see nothing else in his life except obedience to the messages of God.
In fact, we know nothing else about the earthly life of St. Joseph except that he obeyed every single instruction he received from God.
Today the Gospel draws our attention to the role of St. Joseph in our salvation as the foster father of Christ, as the husband of Blessed Mary, and as the protector and head of the Holy Family.
His living obedience is a model for our worship and our lives; but it is also more than that.
Whereas Blessed Mary truly is the mother of God, St. Joseph, in a certain fashion, is the “savior” of God.
Today in the Gospel we witnessed the message St. Joseph received from the Lord in a dream:
take the child and his mother,
flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.

St. Joseph obeyed, and so SAVED the infant life of God our Savior.
Had St. Joseph not acted to save him, the Holy Infant would have died a victim of Herod’s massacre.
The blood of the Infant Jesus could have atoned for the sins of all humanity.
Nonetheless, it was only in the fullness of his manhood that Jesus established the New Covenant:
This is my body.
This is my blood.
These are handed over for you
for the forgiveness of sins.

St. Joseph saved him for that.
It was in the fullness of his manhood that Jesus taught and gave us the new commandment:
As the Father has loved me,
so have I loved you.
Love one another as I have loved you.

St. Joseph saved him for that.
St. Joseph saved the Infant Son of God who later in the fullness of his manhood would choose twelve apostles.
Then, on the night before he was to offer himself on the cross for the glory of the Father and for our salvation, he spoke to the heavenly Father in the presence of those twelve, saying:
As you, Father, sent me into the world,
so I have sent them into the world.

St. Joseph saved him for that.
St. Joseph saved the Infant Son of God, who, thirty years later, in the fullness of his manhood, at the very summit of his saving work, would finally declare on the Cross, “It is complete” [Greek, tetélestai, “the goal is realized”].
St. Joseph saved him for that.
When the heavenly Father raised his Son from the dead, giving divine glory to his human flesh, it was the same flesh that St. Joseph had protected from the blades of Herod the baby-killer.
St. Joseph saved Jesus who would one day be raised from the dead in the fullness of manhood, and speak the first words of the resurrection to his disciples:
Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me,
even so I send you....
Receive the Holy Spirit.

St. Joseph saved him for that.
St. Joseph saved the Infant Son of God who later in the fullness of his manhood became our teacher and prophet, our shepherd and king, our sacrament, our sacrifice and our priest, our atonement and our communion, our salvation and our resurrection.
Saved as an Infant by St. Joseph, the Son of God would declare and prove in the fullness of his manhood:
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life....
No one can come to the Father except through me.

Though we are redeemed and made holy by the Son of God, we can clearly recognize we have a great debt to his foster father, St. Joseph, “Savior of the Savior”.
St. Joseph saved the Holy Infant who later in the fullness of his manhood left us the everlasting memorial of his love in the Eucharist.
What we celebrate in the Eucharist, we owe in no small degree to the intervention of St. Joseph and to the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the Church, we join St. Joseph and Blessed Mary as the family of Christ.
We can be sure that Christ, as a boy in Nazareth, thought of his own relationship to St. Joseph and Blessed Mary when he first learned to read the ancient Scripture that we heard today.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins....
... he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened...
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life,
and he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

That Scripture goes on to say:
My son, perform your tasks in meekness;

“Loved by those whom God accepts!”
Together with Blessed Mary and St. Joseph, let us love and worship Christ our savior, for, in Christ, God has accepted us as his own holy family.

That God Be Glorified in All


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