What would you have done? Think about it: you find out the person you are to marry is pregnant and you know that the child is not yours. You are reassured by an angel that it’s okay: the child you are being asked to raise is God’s very own Son. Don’t worry, don’t be afraid. Just do what God asks you to do and all will go well. Joseph I am sure was left scratching his head. What do I do? Do I trust and believe or do I run and divorce my betrothed? Of course, we know that the faith of Joseph the Righteous is an amazing testament to his character and determination to follow the Will of God. But the question still persists: what would I have done? Is my faith strong enough to give me the courage to trust and believe that God would expect greatness from me? Of course, each and every baptized Catholic Christian is called to greatness; we are called, each and every day to put into practice the promises that were accepted for us on the day of our baptism and then we confirmed on the day when we were sealed with the fullness of God’s Spirit on the day of our Confirmation. Greatness! It sounds like something for the “holy roller” not something for the ordinary person but that is the point of discipleship. Saints are merely followers of Jesus who lived life well. The embraced a universal call to holiness and exemplified what greatness really is: greatness is nothing out of the ordinary! We give great witness to greatness when we are kind; loving; forgiving and generous. At the beginning of the season of Advent, we placed two trees at the main entrance of the Church and hundreds of tags were placed on the trees and we were asked to help those in need. I saw greatness as the tags quickly disappeared. None of us is going to get public recognition for purchasing an item or two. We simply took the tags and returned the items without having our names attached in anyway to the gifts. It sounds overly simplistic but my brothers and sisters, that is a tangible example of greatness. As the days of Advent quickly come to a close, might we continue to call out to the Lord, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Continue to give us generous hearts that teem with an abundance of compassion and concern for those who need to know that they too are capable of greatness!
When I was a young boy and then as a teenager, I was not really into playing sports. I’ve mentioned this in homilies that I have preached in the past. It just wasn’t “my thing.” Things like Scouts and participating in Student Government were among the activities that occupied my time. My younger brother, Ryan, on the other hand, was the more athletically inclined one of the two us but at the same time, even though we had different interests, we were fiercely competitive. Of course, it was all in good fun. The great thing about the relationship I had with my brother is that we competed in very different events. Competition can be healthy and when we are victorious, we possess a sense of accomplishment and a sense of success. Our parents always encouraged my younger brother and I to strive to do our best; to simply not give up when either we lost at a sporting event or didn’t win the election that we were sure that we were going to win. Saint Paul extols Timothy that “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2Tim 4:7) There are many opportunities in life for competition and that is a good thing but there is something else that Paul writes to Timothy certain things are required, namely completing the task at hand and never losing faith that yes, you can do it! This past weekend I preached all the necessity to always be persistent, just like the widow who pestered the judge. What greeted me Monday morning when I was making the rounds at the hospital? Someone who just decided that she was tired of fighting; life was no longer worth living. I have elected to use those powerful words of St Paul this week in this column because just because we think that we have competed well at something, we still have to finish it and do so within the context of faith. Our God walks with us daily. He never leaves us alone. But if we selfishly think that we have done our best and decide to give up, perhaps we need to stop and re-evaluate our actions. As a people of faith, we must never lose sight of the things that are truly important, namely, union with God and neighbor. When we experience the love of God and the embrace of our fellow neighbor, then and only then can we say, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”