Month of May: Month of Mary that begins with St. Joseph the Worker.

 The work of both of them is the living faith of the conversion away from self in service to others. They both engender Jesus Christ in a way analgous to the Father who engenders the Person of His Son, the Christ. The Father is the full bore engendering of the Son. Mary and Joseph engender Christ as an act of obedience to participate in the divine command to give self. We also participate in this engendering of Christ in ourselves by obedience to the vocation to give ourselves in work. This is the practical vocation extended to all men to say “Yes” to whatever the Lord is asking of us; i.e to hear the Word of God and do it.” The one who hears the Word of God and does it is my brother, and sister, and mother.[1]

 

Our Lady said yes to the vocation to be the Mother of God. That “Yes” was already the Christic act of self-gift. The gift of self has the characteristic of divinity as Ratzinger’s theology of the Trinity offers, i.e. the Father is the action of engendering the Son, and the Son is the action of obeying and glorifying the Father. They are neither Father or Son “before” the actions but are the actions themselves. Divine Person is not thing-in itself but action, or better, the activity of going out of self.  The Virgin is not divine, but when moved by the divine Love is capable of permitting such an action to take place in her, and so she is capable with “grace” of becoming the mother of God.

               The point: the truth of Christian faith is that all has to be sold.[2] The rich young man (Mark 10,) came to Christ asking for eternal life. He was told to live the commandments. His response was: “been there, done that.” But, Christ, “looking upon him loved him and said to him: ‘one thing is lacking to thee; go, sell whatever thou hast. And give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”[3]

    St. Joseph, by a like divine affirmation, “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife.” What he did is the clearest ‘obedience of faith’ (cf. Rom. 1, 5; 16, 26; 2 Cor. 10, 5-6). One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as truth coming from God the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation. The Council teaches: ”’The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him.’” This statement which touches the very essence of faith is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.”[4]

   So, as Our Lady, though a mere creature, was made able by being affirmed by divine Love,  to give herself and therefore enter into the engendering of the divine Son of the Father in herself, so also Joseph, by a like gift of self, was also able to enter (And so are we) into the engendering of the Son. Joseph, though creature and without carnal union with the Virgin.

    The large ascetical point to be made on this day and for the month of May is our own engendering of Christ in us such that Christ’s words be fulfilled in us:

“20. The Gospel of Luke records the moment when “a woman in the crowd raised her voice” and said to Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” (Lk. 11:27) These words were an expression of praise of Mary as Jesus’ mother according to the flesh. Probably the Mother of Jesus was not personally known to this woman; in fact, when Jesus began his messianic activity Mary did not accompany him but continued to remain at Nazareth. One could say that the words of that unknown woman in a way brought Mary out of her hiddenness.

Through these words, there flashed out in the midst of the crowd, at least for an instant, the gospel of Jesus’ infancy. This is the gospel in which Mary is present as the mother who conceives Jesus in her womb, gives him birth and nurses him: the nursing mother referred to by the woman in the crowd. Thanks to this motherhood, Jesus, the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk. 1:32), is a true son of man. He is “flesh,” like every other man: he is “the Word (who) became flesh” (cf. Jn. 1:14). He is of the flesh and blood of Mary!43

But to the blessing uttered by that woman upon her who was his mother according to the flesh, Jesus replies in a significant way: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11:28). He wishes to divert attention from motherhood understood only as a fleshly bond, in order to direct it towards those mysterious bonds of the spirit which develop from hearing and keeping God’s word.

This same shift into the sphere of spiritual values is seen even more clearly in another response of Jesus reported by all the Synoptics. When Jesus is told that “his mother and brothers are standing outside and wish to see him,” he replies: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (cf. Lk. 8:20-21). This he said “looking around on those who sat about him,” as we read in Mark (3:34) or, according to Matthew (12:49), “stretching out his hand towards his disciples” …….”[5]

               What can this text – “Yeah rather” – mean but that as our Lady and St. Joseph heard the word of God and did it, tbey became the true Mother and associative father of Jesus Christ. It tells us the meaning of the act of faith; that it is the act that justifies and saves (as the action imparted to us in Baptism). It means that we ourselves engender Christ in us such that we become other Christs if we hear the Word of God and do it. We become others and fathers of Christ in  us. This is the burden of the entire asceticism of redemption and sanctification.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Words of St. Josemaria Escriva: “MY children, God teaches us to abandon ourselves completely. Look where Christ is born. Everything there bespeaks unconditional  self-giving. Joseph, whose life is a successions of hardships mixed  with joy of being Jesus’ guardian, risks his honor, the serene continuity of his work, his tranquil future his entire existence is ready availability for whatever God may ask. Mary shows herself to be the handmaid of the Lord (Luke 1, 38), who by her fiat transforms her entire existence into an acceptance of the divine plan of salvation. And Jesus,sSuffice it to say that our God reveals himself fto us as a child. The Creator of the universe presents himself to us in an infant’s swaddling clothes, so we may never doubt that he is true God and true Man.

            “Simply calling these scenes to mind should fill us with shame and provoke holy and effective resolutions. We must get drunk on this new logic brought down to earth by God. In Bethlehem, no one reserves anything for self.  There we hear nothing of my reputation, my time, my work, my ideas, my preferences, my money. There everything is placed at the service of God’s marvelous adventure with humanity, the Redemption. Surrendering our pride, let us tell God with all the love of a child: ego servus tuus, ego servus tuus, et filius ancillae tuae (Ps. 115, 16). I am your servant, I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, Mary: teach me to serve you.

Pause for a moment, my children, and consider your own life. Perhaps we have already sensed the tolling of the bell, heaven’s grace, in the depths of our soul. Our Lord, with his unconditional self-giving, shows us that authentic Christian conduct is woven of both divine and human threads: man’s will intertwined with God’s will. To loosen a thread, even a seemingly unimportant one, is to begin to undo the tapestry. What a sad failure, a good tapestry that has come unrivalled. What a shame, a child of God who would dare to reclaim his own will, after surrendering it…

“I write to warn you against the assaults of the deveil, who perhaps attacks at ‘the eleventh hour,’ almost at the end of our journey here below, stirring up once again  the claims of the prudence of the flesh. Never forget that you and I have come to surrender our entire life. Reputation, money, professional success, talents, possibilities of positions of influence, family ties; in a word, everything that normally accompanies  the career of a mature person, all has to be submitted – yes, submitted – to a higher interest: God’s glory and the salvation of souls.”[6]                                                           

[1] Go to Redempt oris Mater # 20

[2] John Paul II, Laborem exercens, “Property is acquired first of all through work in order that it may serve work. This concerns in a special way ownership of the means of production. Isolating these means as a separate property in order to set I up in the form of ‘capital’ in opposition to labor – and even to practice exploitation of labor – is contrary to the very nature of these means and their possession. They cannot be possessed for possession’s sake, because the only legitimate title to their possession – whether in the form of private ownership or collective ownership – is that they should serve labor, and thus, by serving labor, that they should make possible the achievement of the first principle of this order, namely the universal destination of goods and the right to common use of them From this point of view, therefore, in consideration of human labor and of common access to the goods meant for man, one cannot exclude the socialization, in suitable conditions, of certain means of production: LE #14.

[3] Mk 10, 21-22.

[4] John Paul II, “Redemptoris Custos” 5.

[5] Remptoris Mater, #20

[6] Letter of St. Josemaria Escriva to his children, 1974

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