Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction


The Gospel today presents to us the great figure of Saint Joseph – the one chosen to be the foster father of the incarnate Son of God, and to protect and accompany the Blessed Virgin Mary. What an incredible mission!

We are told in our Gospel that Saint Joseph is a ‘man of honor.’ We see him thinking of Mary first:‘wishing to spare her publicity, he decided to divorce her informally.’ Saint Joseph puts the needs of others before his own, even in a time of confusion and uncertainty.

Pope Francis has spoken on several occasions about his devotion to St Joseph. St Joseph is his favorite saint, he says, because he shows us how God reveals his plan to us in our times of silence and rest. He keeps a statue of a sleeping St Joseph on his desk, placing prayer requests under it.

Speaking on a trip to the Philippines in 2015, he said: “I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength … Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us. But like St Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.

Today’s Gospel recalls the central role played by St Joseph in the story of the birth of Jesus. A man of honor from the outset, the goodness of his character is further highlighted by his response to God’s voice. When he wakes up after hearing God’s instructions in a dream, he immediately acts on it and takes Mary into his home. His openness to God’s will is a crucial element in the story that follows: his partnership with and support of Mary, the birth of Jesus, his care for the child ‘who is to save his people’.

Christmas is very near now, and we are busy and preoccupied with our preparations. A good time, perhaps, to pause in silence, to rest with God, and to listen to what he might have to say to us.

As we move into prayer on the Gospel passage, we move from consideration of the mystery of how ‘God with us’ was revealed to the world in the person of Jesus 2000 years ago, to a reflection on how we become aware of ‘God with us’ now in our daily lives.

It took some time for Joseph to accept the fact that, in Mary, there truly was Emmanuel – God with us. God is with us now, but at times we struggle to perceive God’s presence. Where have we unexpectedly discovered the presence of ‘God with us’? Let us recall those experiences and give thanks.

Joseph was confused and uncertain about what he should do. It took time, and outside help, for him to discern what his next step should be. Perhaps we have also had difficulties along the way to some decisions or commitments. Let us recall that journey and the moments when it became clear to us what was being asked of us. Let us give thanks for the angels who helped us along the way.

Mary bore Jesus within her, unseen to all, and unacknowledged by most. In Joseph she found one who believed in the treasure that she bore. We can be bearers of Jesus to others, and they to us. When have we been that kind of a bearer of Jesus to another? Who has been that to us?

Six Best Doctors

Each year U.S. News & World Report publishes their choice of the best hospitals in the United States. They are ranked into 17 specialties: Cancer, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Ear, Nose and Throat, Gastroenterology, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Psychiatry, Pulmonology, Rehabilitation, Rheumatology, and Urology.

Local magazines, usually in conjunction with their county medical societies, also announce yearly the names of the best doctors. Here are the names of the six best doctors in the world. They are:

4.Prayer; 5.Service;
6.A sense of humor