Friday, December 30, 2011

Devotion for today: Fathers, protect your children

Silent Night

Silent Night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
‘round yon virgin, Mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 2:13-15; 19-23
 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said,  “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Psalm 112:7-8
The good man takes pity and lends, he conducts his affairs with honor.
The just man will never waver: he will be remembered for ever.
He has no fear of evil news; with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.
With a steadfast heart he will not fear; he will see the downfall of his foes.

The Oblates of St. Joseph tell us: In this section (Mt 2:13-23), Joseph is the visible protagonist who thwarts Herod in his intention to destroy the child. In this he exercises the protective role of father necessary for the survival of the child. Twice explicitly and once implicitly, it is again Joseph whom the angel of the Lord addresses for what regards the family. Both child and mother are mentioned in a passive role, entrusted to his care. As Joseph was a "just" or "upright" man of faith in accepting his role of father in Matthew 1, so now is he an upright man of faith in exercising that role by immediate, trusting, and unquestioning obedience to the three divine commands to flee by night to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, to return to Israel, and to move to Galilee where he settled at Nazareth. In the first two of these examples as in the initial dream in Matthew 1, Joseph's response is described in words that repeat almost verbatim the words of the angel. This absolute and exact faithfulness to God in fatherly concern for the welfare of the child makes Joseph God's instrument of liberation and fulfillment. Humbly and quietly he saves the Savior's life and establishes earthly residence for him.

Prayer to St. Joseph: St. Joseph, protect our home. Pour forth from heaven blessings on our family. Remain in our midst. Help us to live in love and harmony, in peace and joy. May the wholesome fear of God strengthen us that virtue may adorn what we do and our way may lead to heaven. To you this day I give the key to our dwelling place. Lock out all things that could do us harm. Lock my home and my loved ones with me in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. This I beg of you, that our days may be like your days in the holy home at Nazareth. Amen.

My thoughts: As a good father, Joseph made sure his child slept in heavenly peace. But it didn’t mean that he himself did. As my pastor, Fr. Andrew Fisher said, he never really got much sleep once he was picked to be the earthly father of Jesus. Three times he is awakened with commands for action. Three times he responds quickly. He is a good father, putting the needs of his child above his own. Even more importantly, he is a father who is so in tune with the word of God that he knows it when he hears it. How many of us today can say that? How many of us drown out any hope of God’s getting our attention? And even if He did, would we react so quickly and cause ourselves such inconvenience to submit to it?  Joseph married a woman with child, escaped with them to a foreign country, settled in a town that was not his own, and never once complained. His son and wife were his life. His love of God was his guide. “With a firm heart he trusted in the Lord.” On this, the feast of the Holy Family, may we all strive to become like Joseph, casting ourselves aside to do the will of God.

Our prayer to God:   Take time to meditate on the picture. Joseph stands tall and strong, defending his family, lovingly holding them in his protective embrace. Imagine God, your Abba – Father, doing the same for you. St. Joseph serves as a reminder that God will always be there for us. Let us take time today to thank Him for such a gift. And fear no more. Your Father loves you very, very much. (photo from

No comments: