My Thoughts 21/12/2021

We now have our crib in the church. There is Mary and Joseph, a lone shepherd and a few sheep of different sizes. The manger is empty. We have a few casual visitors off the street during the day. One little boy asked me where is Jesus. An adult exclaimed. “Father there is no baby Jesus”. Leading up to the Christmas season it is good to gaze on the other characters that are part of the Good News, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.

Today I want to linger on Joseph. He is the quiet man, the dependable man. In his weekly audience last week, Pope Francis talked of the silence of Joseph. His silence is not muteness,” but is instead “a silence full of listening, an industrious silence, a silence that bring out his great interiority.” Quoting St John of the Cross, the Holy Father explained that God the Father spoke the Word, His Son, in eternal silence “and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”

The Pope encourages us to follow the example of St Joseph and recover this contemplative dimension of life by times of silence. He says that silence can be frightening because it asks us to delve into ourselves and confront the truest part of us.

Let us take up the invitation “to cultivate spaces for silence in which another Word can emerge: that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” This will involve being careful of our speech, which if unchecked can become evil, and our words can become “flattery, bragging, lies, backbiting, and slander.”

Pope Francis gave us this prayer:

Saint Joseph, man of silence,
you who in the Gospel did not utter a single word,
teach us to fast from vain words,
to rediscover the value of words that edify, encourage, console and support.
Be close to those who suffer from words that hurt,
like slander and backbiting,
and help us always to match words with deeds.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest