Boots Laced Week 3: A Just Man

(Homily for Twenty-Seventh Ordinary Sunday Year C)

Message: In a world of great injustice God wants us to be like St. Joseph - a just man, that is, one who puts relationships in right order.

Our first reading describes a disordered world: violence, discord and misery. In face of disorder we have two choices: A person can run away, crawl into a hole, become a couch potato. The other option, the one Pope Francis proposes: to lace up one's boots and become a protagonist of history.

As we have seen so far this does not necessarily mean doing extraordinary things: running for public office or heading a corporation. It can mean doing small things but doing them with great love. Last week we saw a man who lived a humble life, left no memorable quotes, yet his example of spiritual paternity shines: What it means to be true man - to care, respect and protect.

We have in our sanctuary a new statue of this man - St. Joseph.* When we installed it last week we began a novena to this powerful intercessor. We will conclude it today by reciting the prayer asking for the saint's intercession.

St. Joseph has this title - "a just man." The Gospel relates that when Joseph found Mary to be with child, being a just man he decided to send her away quietly. How is this just? Being just or righteous, according to the Bible, means to get one's relationships in right order. God comes first and if a person does that he will do right by others. It's not in anger that Joseph wants to send Mary away. It's sorrow. To save his beloved from shame he resolves to do it quietly - always remaining open to the Holy Spirit. It cannot have been easy. Joseph was a man of quiet courage.

St. Paul says that God does not give a spirit of cowardice but of power. Some people confuse power with bluster. I remember a guy denouncing the bishops and bragging about how he would have done things differently. Not only did he know what the bishops should have done; he also knew exactly what to do about Putin and Al Qaeda! That same man, however, had an associate who was acting egregiously. Could he confront his out-of-control associate? He could not. Instead he made excuses.

By way of contrast one of my priest friends is known as mild and timid. Some even call him a wuss. In spite of all that I have seen him deal quietly and effectively with difficult situations - and difficult people. Here's the thing: Less bluster, more muster.

St. Joseph was like that. He acted confident that no matter the cost, if he put God first, things would ultimately work out. God does not give a spirit of cowardice but of power.

Power follows when a person admits weakness. In today's Gospel the disciples say, "Increase our faith." Jesus says not to worry about small faith - even as small as a mustard seed. A good wind can carry a mustard seed. That happened to Joseph. After God removes his fear and doubt, Joseph takes Mary as his wife. Then the Spirit carries them from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and finally back to Nazareth. There he opens a small workshop and the family strikes roots.

Like Joseph trust that God has plan. Like him have your boots laced. Next Sunday we will see a vital dimension of God's plan. To lead into it I will say something about the new Order of Celebrating Matrimony. It came into effect a few weeks ago and I have had three opportunities to use it. I think you will find it interesting, but that is for next week.

This Sunday we acknowledge that we live in a world of confusion and discord. In a world of great injustice God wants us to be like St. Joseph - a just man, that is, one who puts relationships in right order. Increase our faith, we ask. And we hear Jesus speak about faith the size of a mustard seed - to allow God to carry us - to trust his plan. God does not give a spirit of cowardice but of power, love and self-control. Amen.


*Blessing for St. Joseph Stature (bilingual)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Twenty-Seventh Sunday, Year C):

2013: Geography of Faith: The Return from Exile
2010: Questions That Lead to Faith
2004: The Greatest Power
2001: Increase Our Faith
1998: Lord, Increase our Faith

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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