Archbishop of Hyderabad Lenten season! In this holy season, our Father in heaven commands all His adopted children in His holy Church to prepare themselves seriously to appear at the judgment seat of His Beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ ‘so that each of us can receive, good or bad, according to what he has done in the body (2 Cor 5/10).’ Therefore Holy Mother Church exhorts all her children to listen to the exhortation of St. Paul saying ‘the time is now limited’ (for the Son of Man comes like a thief), and so ‘from now on , those who have spouses should live as though they had none; and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; those who enjoy life as though they did not enjoy it; those who have been buying property as though they had no possessions; and those who are involved with the world as though they were people not engrossed in it; because this world as we know it is passing away (1 Cor.7/29-31).’ St. John the Apostle also exhorts us likewise saying ‘do not love the world or what is in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him, because everything there is in the world- the disordered bodily desires, disordered desires of the eyes, pride in possession-is not from the Father but is of the world. And the world with all its disordered desires is passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever (1 John 2/15-17).’ Humble and serious meditation on these divine teachings will enable us to intelligently understand Holy Mother the Church’s Lenten programme for the sanctification and salvation of her children, and cooperate efficaciously with the Holy Spirit’s mission as Paraclete in our souls through the sacraments of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ diligently, and ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’ as St. Paul reminds us to do. I wish you all a blessed Lenten Season.

SAINT JOSEPH HUSBAND OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The husband of Mary had a perfect spouse, untouched by original sin. He was also the foster father to a boy who was the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Yet Saint Joseph, the least perfect member of his household, was still the head of the family. Authority does not always flow from moral or intellectual superiority. Authority in the Church, in particular, is God given. Because God chooses a certain person to fulfill a task in His household of faith, that person acts with a divine mandate to teach, sanctify, and govern the people and things entrusted to him. Saint Joseph is a model for how God uses imperfect instruments to exercise His perfect will. God does not want robots, machines, or zombies to mindlessly implement His plan for mankind. The history of the Church is replete with imperfect tools who have caused scandal and division. Wayward leaders have cost the Church entire countries. Yet despite all these unworthy instruments in the hands of the Divine Master, truth and shelter and grace continue to be provided to those baptised into the Church, the Master’s family.

God wants personality. God wants us to have character. God’s angels are created spirits who lack the restrictions imposed by a human body. But in not having a body, the angels also lack what makes us unique. They lack the spit, vinegar, and spark that make a man a man. Every man is an enfleshed soul, the coming together of a body and a spirit. This coming together is not half soul and half body, like the mythical centaur with the body of a horse but the torso and head of a man. When copper and zinc are welded together they are superficially united into one larger piece of metal. But the union is not total and does not create something new. The copper is still copper and the zinc is still zinc. But when copper and zinc are each melted down and then mixed together, they form brass. Brass is not just the joining of copper to zinc but an entirely new material with unique properties. In a similar way, the union of a body and a soul together composes a human person with unique properties, a child of God unlike any other. The saints, in particular, were unique people often possessing hot tempers, forceful personalities, and unbending wills. They placed their uniqueness at the service of God and His Church and helped to change the world. God did not make, and does not want, just vanilla ice cream. Everyone likes vanilla. But no one likes only vanilla. God wants flavor.

Saint Joseph was, like all the saints, unique. He probably had personal traits which were less than perfect. These imperfections were absolutely no obstacle to Mary and Jesus obeying him, loving him, and ceding to his authority in the Holy Family of Nazareth. Mary and Jesus would have happily bent to the will of their God-given guide, despite their metaphysical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual superiority.

Ancient traditions hold that Saint Joseph was considerably older than the Virgin Mary. Other traditions tell that he was married previously and that the “brothers” of Jesus were half brothers from Saint Joseph’s previous marriage. Scripture tells us he was a carpenter and that Jesus was known as the “carpenter’s son” (Mt. 13:55). Joseph may have been more precisely a builder, who worked with the native stone so common to Palestinian construction. A Jewish ritual bath made of stone discovered beneath the church of Saint Joseph in Nazareth, a church which long tradition says was built over the Holy Family’s home, may be Joseph’s very own handiwork. A firm tradition teaches that Saint Joseph died long before his Son’s death. This is based not on biblical evidence but on the lack of it. It can be reasonably presumed that Saint Joseph would have been present at his Son’s crucifixion, as was Mary. Yet no mention is made of him being there. From this absence, biblical scholars have, from the beginning of the Church, surmised that Saint Joseph was by then dead. Thus, Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of a Happy Death, because he presumably died with Jesus and the Virgin Mary at his side. This is how all of us want to die, with Christ holding our hand on one side of the bed and the Virgin Mary seated beside us on the other side. Saint Joseph died in the best of company. May we do so as well.

- Source: My Catholic Life

THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, was first celebrated in the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan. From all eternity, God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

Mary is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.

Source: Franciscan Media

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