4th Sunday of Advent (A), Matthew 1:18-24
December 18, 2016
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
A LOT of people yearn to be associated with important or famous persons even for just a short while. We see this verified when crowds gather around sports or showbiz idols in the hope of being photographed near them; or when they push their way through in order to get an autograph that they will treasure for the rest of their days . . . .
And of course, if the association lasts longer than just a few seconds and stretches into days or months or years of service under people with a big name, the thrill they experience is even greater.
What about being invited not just to serve under God’s leadership, but actually becoming His “partners” in the implementation of His plan? That should be, for all of us, an unparalleled honor, indeed. We should feel flattered and do the utmost so as not to miss such a unique opportunity.
Well, such an opportunity is not just a “theoretical possibility” but a breathtaking reality. Outstanding and well-known examples of such invitation are recorded in the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve, down to Abram, Moses, Joshua, all the prophets and kings, and Mary Most Holy.
Unfortunately, a good number of those called, starting with Adam and Eve, out of pride and irresponsibility, botched the chance that had been offered them to be on the side of God, and failed miserably. Others, like Joseph of Nazareth, whose call we remember today, did not hesitate to “dump” their own plans in order to embrace God’s project and work wholeheartedly at its realization.
Joseph made the right choice and stuck to it through thick and thin, rain or shine. His humble and generous faithfulness made him a loving husband and a foster father. He learned at his own expense that being invited to “work for God” is no assurance to be exempted from harassment, persecution or suffering in any form. It is no assurance, either, of a “glorious exit.” The silence and apparent “irrelevance” that enveloped Joseph after his return from Egypt, is a clear sign of “unrewardedness” – within the earthly lifespan – that may accompany even the staunchest loyalty.
The opportunity to be God’s partners in the fulfillment of His plan is offered also to all of us.
God’s invitation to be His partners, offers no assurance that success will always smile at us during this earthly life. Sometimes, under the glamorous initial appearance, there lies the harsh reality of challenging tests that will show our mettle. Accepting God’s plan may even include the frightening possibility that everything may end in a failure, if we view things from a simply human perspective. The tragic end suffered by Jesus Christ himself is a proof of that.
Becoming and continuing to be God’s partners is not for weaklings or people who want to live an easy life. It demands humility, generosity, loyalty, courage, and perseverance. But, over and above all these virtues, it demands FAITH – trusting God fully and entrusting oneself totally to Him, come what may. This should be clear to all of us as we reflect on the implications of God’s call to be a part of His plan.
Some may be discouraged by “secondariness” or even the “invisibility” of the role assigned to them. When this happens, they should remember that the hidden metal bars that give solidity to the building may be as important as (or even more than) the elegant windows that embellish the façade. What matters most is not so much WHAT we are called to do, but HOW we do it. All that matters is that we walk faithfully, to the end of the road, by the side of our invisible “Senior Partner” who not only knows the way, but also IS THE WAY to sure and lasting success.
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