Greetings my brother and sisters,
We are soon beginning our summer time and much of the time we have more free time at our disposal, particularly if we are in school. Make sure to use some of that time in prayer…God is never on vacation and so we need to make sure we are not taking a vacation from him!
Continuing our reflection on the Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde, by Pope Francis we have arrived at number 5, entitled “A creatively courageous father”. The pope begins by explaining what he means by creative courage: “This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.” In the previous section (and last month’s newsletter), the need to accept our life and life experience as is was put forth by the Holy Father and Joseph as the example of this. In order to do this, then, creative courage is needed and Joseph had that as well.
God acted by trusting in Joseph’s creative courage. Arriving in Bethlehem and finding no lodging where Mary could give birth, Joseph took a stable and, as best he could, turned it into a welcoming home for the Son of God come into the world (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Faced with imminent danger from Herod, who wanted to kill the child, Joseph was warned once again in a dream to protect the child, and rose in the middle of the night to prepare the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2:13-14).
The Pope speaks of two instances in which Joseph showed this creative courage and this helps us to understand even more what he means by this. Joseph was able to make due best he could with what God provided for him. He did not wait passively for God to do everything, nor did he lament the fact that he did not have certain things or opportunities. Accepting his situation and possibilities, he did what he could and, as Pope Francis puts it very well “was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence.” What a great way to face life and move forward. This is especially important in vocation discernment. God will provide me with the necessary experiences and knowledge but I have to be the one to decide and act!
The next words of the Holy Father are also provocative: “If at times God seems not to help us, surely this does not mean that we have been abandoned, but instead are being trusted to plan, to be creative, and to find solutions ourselves.” But, if I am to find the solution myself, how am I trusting in Providence? By accepting what was provided and using my God given reason and talents to solve the difficulty. All has been provided by God, after all; I need only act and not allow fear, indecision or apathy to get the upper hand. This St. Joseph did at every turn. Once I discover my vocation, I have to decide to act, God will not do that for me.
This section concludes with the Pope calling for us to imitate St. Joseph also in caring for “the child and his mother”. This we do by loving and protecting the Church: “In his continued protection of the Church, Joseph continues to protect the child and his mother, and we too, by our love for the Church, continue to love the child and his mother.” God is calling us and he is calling us within the Church. We must stay connected to the Church and promote the best interests of the Church no matter the vocation we have since Jesus comes to us through his Church. The Pope points out that Jesus identified himself most especially with “every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person”. So Joseph provides and loves especially these members of the Church and so must we by learning from his example of care and responsibility. Caring for all is the vocation of all!
Fr. Brian Crawford, OSJ