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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | God has chosen a mission requiring our human cooperation

The lives of Mary and Joseph can inspire us to cooperate in Jesus’ mission, even when it is difficult or unexpected

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This week begins with St. Joseph, whose solemnity is celebrated on March 20 this year, and ends with Mary with the solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25. I’d like to propose two ways that Joseph and Mary can help our approach to the All Things New strategic planning initiative.

The first is the astonishing fact that Jesus, although He was God, needed human support when He came in the flesh. Both Mary and Joseph — each in their own way — provided support for His physical body and therefore ultimately for His saving mission.

It could have been otherwise. He didn’t have to come into the world this way — in a way that made Him depend on human support. But He willed it to be so. And both Mary and Joseph gave Him the support He needed from them.

How does that relate to All Things New? Simply this: Jesus still needs human support — ours!

Jesus didn’t have to make the presence of His sacramental body, in the Eucharist, depend on human priests. But He did. He didn’t have to make the presence of His mystical body, the Church, depend on all of us. But He did. It could have been otherwise. But He willed it to be this way. The question is: Will we lend Him our support — like Mary and Joseph — or will we turn away when it gets hard?

That leads to the second point of reflection: The lives of Joseph and Mary weren’t easy! In fact, they were harder precisely because God chose them to be so closely associated with His saving mission.

Think about Mary’s pregnancy: It was quite unexpected for her and quite troubling for Joseph. And that was just the beginning! Think about their journey to Bethlehem: It wasn’t part of their plan, but it was part of God’s plan. The same goes for their flight to Egypt.

At each turn, the support Joseph and Mary needed to give Jesus was unexpected, got harder and required more creativity. We might have expected that their path would be easier because they were specially chosen by God. But God is no “lawn-mower” parent, making everything smoother for His chosen people. Quite the opposite: God actually asks more from His chosen people than He does from others. The deeper their mission, the deeper the suffering they undergo.

How does that relate to All Things New? It’s important to understand that this pattern applies to us, as well. God has chosen us for a mission. Now, like Mary and Joseph, we’re realizing: That makes things harder, not easier!

The question for us becomes: Will we continue to lend Jesus our support when the way becomes unexpectedly hard, requires greater sacrifice and demands deeper creativity? I think that’s the point at which we can turn to Joseph and Mary, ponder their example, and ask for their prayers.

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