The readings for Sunday, December 22nd, were from The Gospel of Matthew 1:18-24. These are powerful verses about St. Joseph, Mary’s future husband. He was a man caught in a difficult situation: his fiancée was with child and he wanted to do what was right before God. Though Joseph was to become the foster father of Jesus, he is never quoted in the Bible. Joseph was a strong, silent man. When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream, he did as he was instructed. I imagine Joseph being in deep prayer and asking God for a sign from heaven; then Gabriel appeared to him in a dream. Joseph had already contemplated quietly separating himself from Mary. God used archangels at this time because the world had not been introduced to the triune God. These angels were powerful messengers from God; they had the anointing to convey a message with gentle force. Joseph knew that his prayers were answered with the confirmation of the message from Gabriel the Archangel.
It was different with Mary; the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her in person. Mary had taken a Nazarite vow, which meant that her entire life was set aside to serve God. Her parents, Anna and Joachim, were like Hannah and Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1-28); they could not conceive a child. Tradition has it that Anna and Joachim concieved and dedicated Mary to the the service of the Temple. At the age of three she was presented to the priest, and she remained in the care of the priest until it was decided that she should marry Joseph. Mary was 15 years old at the time of Jesus’ birth. Her life remained true to the consecration of a Nazarite vow. Joseph honored her and cared for her, but they never had children together because she remained a perpetual virgin. Joseph was much older than Mary; he was a widower with sons of his own. God set Mary aside to be the Mother of God. Mary, from her birth, had been prepared for this great and mighty calling. Thank you, Blessed Ever Virgin Mary, for saying, “Behold , I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
The reason that we celebrate this wonderful Annunciation, and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ is no surprise. He came to save us, and we are all called to serve Him. This tiny baby was born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and nursed by the holy, consecrated milk of His precious Mother Mary; yet many cannot set aside time to recognize the greatest event in all of history. There is no better time than now to seek Him! The Lord waits for us to give our heart, mind and spirit to Him. I pray that we all come to the understanding that it is He Who sits on the throne, it is He Who allows us to go through trials, so that we can draw closer to Him. I will never stay silent about how much I love Jesus, for where would I be without Him in my life? I bring good tidings in sharing that Our Lord was born on Christmas day, and He loves us all the same. No person is more special than another. We may believe that because we served Him longer that He loves us more. That is not how He operates. I am closer to the Lord because I seek Him out. I may know more about serving Him because I sacrifice my time to serve, but in all honesty anyone can do the same. Nothing changes in the Kingdom of God. He loves us all the same and patiently waits for us to come in.
The Seasonal Job
I worked this past Saturday for eight hours. I watched as people methodically decided to pick out a wallet as a Christmas gift. I learned a lesson in patience that day. The Lord showed me those who could not make up their minds because they were taking everything into consideration for the person they were purchasing the gift for. At first I wanted to scream, “Pick a wallet for Pete’s sake!” I never experienced an uncomfortable situation at work; instead I learned special things about strangers. One lady shared a touching story with me. This young lady, a newlywed, said that she moved the date of her wedding so that her ailing mother could attend the ceremony. Her mother went home to be with the Lord shortly afterward. She bought two wallets because she wanted to be certain that she purchased the right one for her husband.
I could not believe that I lasted that long on my feet; I believe the Lord gave me special graces to endure this long day. I looked at my watch and it was 3 o’clock, the Divine Mercy Hour. I silently prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to myself during this time, partly because I still had three hours left on the clock, but mostly because it was the right thing to do.
The Big Misunderstanding
Working with my daughter has allowed me certain privileges; for example,I get a substantial discount on the merchandise I purchase in the store. I had already worked four days and was planning on paying for some of my purchases with the money I earned. My daughter Sonja told me that I had a check at work. Then the saddest thing happened: I got to work early to select the gifts for other family members, but when Sonja rang up the total, I paid with a credit card. Then I asked her for my check, only to discover that the money had already been deposited into my account almost two weeks ago! I had no idea that it was a direct deposit situation. I never really enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I had already spent the money without being aware that it was already in my account. I know that may come across as odd, but honestly my mind has been so preoccupied with matters of life that I did not bother to check where the extra money came from. It just meant more spending.
As I sat in great despair over the most ridiculous mistake, suddenly it came to me that I still owed a co-worker $100 for throw blankets that he scored for me on a discount. I could feel the blood rush to my face as I announced that I owed him money. Since Sonja pays me a stipend for watching her sons, she told me that she would pay for the blankets with the money she owed me. So, woe is me, I can’t cook, and I can’t manage money either! That’s perfectly fine because I have other gifts.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!