Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saint Joseph and Obedience: A Homily for May 1st

Obedience.  Saint Joseph teaches us obedience.  Do not hesitate to take Mary as your wife. And he obeys.  Take Mary and the child to Egypt.  And he obeys.

And it’s good for future priests to learn obedience.  For, in a very real way, obedience is their work.  Obedience to their Bishop, to their pastors, to their Faculty Advisor and Spiritual Director and even to their Rector.

But why are you called to be obedient to your legitimate superiors?  Is it because they are always right?  They are always brighter than you, more talented than you and always more capable of making the right decision?

Not necessarily.  Because sometimes your legitimate superior will be less bright than you, less experienced and sometimes even less capable of making the right decision.  

But you obey with docility because God has made this man your Bishop or your Rector of your Pastor and its up to God alone to make sense of it.  And for now God calls that man to make the decisions and you to obey them, as a participation, if nothing else, in the kenotic self giving, the obedience unto death which is at the heart of Christ’s perfect sacrifice of love upon the Cross for our salvation.

Saint Joseph helps us understand obedience in a very real way.  Actually Origen does, when he writes:

"Joseph understood that Jesus was superior to him even as he submitted to him, and, knowing the superiority of his charge, he commanded him with respect and moderation. Everyone should reflect on this: frequently a lesser man is placed over people who are greater, and it happens at times that an inferior is more worthy than the one who appears to be set above him. If a person of greater dignity understands this, then he will not be puffed up with pride because of his higher rank; he will know that his inferior may well be superior to him, even as Jesus was subject to Joseph.”

So take this from our Feast of Saint Joseph the Good Worker: Obey your Rector, or your Bishop, or any legitimate authority with humility, docility and love and you will grow into the image of him who was obedient unto death, even death on a Cross.