Friday, March 19, 2010

We Both Had Dads Named Joseph

Where I live, boisterous St. Patrick's Day parties have a way of spanning most of a week, drowning out today's whispered feast of St. Joseph. Not to be deterred, I honor this day for personal reasons--the least of which is my Italian heritage, with its historical devotion to Mary's husband.This day has personal meaning because my father was Joseph, my mother Josephine. My middle name is Joseph.

The first Scripture reading in the Roman Catholic Liturgy on this day pays homage to Joseph's livelihood in the construction trade. "Are you able to build a house for me to live in?" Yahweh asks in 2 Samuel 7:5. 

It was my reflection on the gospel text from Matthew 1 that shone a light on what has been a shadowed recess in my spiritual understanding. 

Lord, I can imagine your dad, proud and gentle, cradling you in the crook of his well-muscled arm. Did your parents ever share with you how close they came to breaking off their betrothal because of you?

*  *  *

I never thought of it before, Lord, but I wonder if the memory of your father's death contributed to the welling of grief and the tears you shed at your friend Lazarus's tomb . . . "and Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Were you reliving the day when you stood at your newly widowed mother's side, supporting her grief, holding your own in abeyance for her sake? Did  the raising of Lazarus offer you a second chance to get it right, after responding to a different call of divine destiny, when your dad passed?

*  *  *

Lord, you learned from both your mom and dad the importance of "doing God's work God's way," as Sr. Joan Chittister puts it. What a stunning statement! It reminds me that many of us, laity and clergy, old and young, set out to do God's work in the Church, but not all of us do it "God's way," as your dad Joseph did. That is the message for me today. Show me the "Joseph way" of ministry, "God's way."

(c) 2010 by Alfred J. Garrotto
All rights reserved

Monday, March 15, 2010

For Esther on Her Birthday

A reflection on the Scripture readings
of the Roman Catholic liturgy
  for Monday, 4th Week of Lent, 2010.

The Prophet Isaiah 65:17-21
"Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create."

The Gospel of John 4:43-54
"Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee."

Lord Christ, 
 God of new,
of joy and creation.
 I praise you today
for one of your best,
my wife
my friend
on her birthday.

 You have blessed me
by sending her
to share my journey
through the second half of life.
 Grant us health
and length of days.

Can it be coincidence 
that today John
invites us with you 
back to Cana,
where you blessed two lovers
with abundance
of mirth-enhancing wine?

that on this Lenten day
Isaiah sings in praise 
of newness and creation, 
of joy and rejoicing?
I think not.

On my daughters' behalf,
I thank you
for such a model 
of wisdom and virtue!

And grant to me 
that elusive third sight,
to see among
the miracles of life and love
your presence
even here, even now.