This past week we placed a list of needed items for our homeless outreach on our Blessing Bag Outreach Facebook page. A gentleman replied that, “We should take care of the homeless and the veterans, not illegal immigrants!”
Now, to be clear, I don’t care what identification someone living on streets is carrying or not carrying; we simply care for them. As they are. Where they are. Whatever their need, we try to help. We carry food, water, Bomas Socks, winter clothing items and yes, even Narcan. So, let me clear here that nothing in the post said anything about illegal aliens. In fact, nothing was said about immigration at all. This man simply ‘read into’ what we posted with his own bias and prejudice. It was upsetting, but not totally unexpected. After all, sadly, everything is political these days, even the work we do on the streets.
I once was asked what makes me a good priest. I often reply if I am that – a good priest – then it was the care and teachings of my parents. I learned to be a good priest at their dining room table where everyone was welcome. I never learned to hate anyone based on skin color, or economic status, or religion, or sexuality. My dad taught me better than that; my dad never had an innate hatred for anyone else. He helped me to be a man, and to love. This is why I am so grateful that the Holy Father has declared this year to be all about Joseph!
Pope Francis recently announced the Year of St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which began December 8th and concludes on December 8, 2021. The decree, in his letter entitled Patris corde (“With a father’s heart”), said that “every member of the faithful, following his [Joseph’s] example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”
You see, each of us can discover in St. Joseph, a man who goes so often unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence, an intercessor of sorts, akin to the Holy Spirit, where support can come to guide us in times of trouble.
Pope Francis wrote, “St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.” I think there is a gem of a needed lesson here for all of us this Advent. In Joseph’s relationship with his son, Jesus, he became the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father. Joseph watched over Jesus and protected Him, never leaving him to go his own way. In other words, Joseph taught Jesus how to be a good man, all without ever knowing what was to come!
I chose the image I did today because I have been a spiritual father for many years. I love being a priest! Now I am also a father to Jameson. And, despite the false rhetoric of some churches that say it would be a hindrance to have a married Catholic Priest, I have found an even deeper meaning to teaching, unconditional love, and modeling good behavior. I am a ‘softer‘ man now, more patient and calm. I see in his eyes the love he already has for me, not even knowing I am his daddy, all because I am kind to him and love him with forever. I have much to teach him before my own journey is done. I pray it will be good.
I know that Saint Miriam will be an even better model of this unconditional love and welcome in the years to come – for us and for our children – we will be a beacon of hope. I hope and pray this is something worthy of your gifts this season. We need your support to remain through this difficult time to engage the world when we return fully. We are needed, just like Jesus needed Joseph.
In life, at work, and within the family, through joys and sorrows, through doubts and the uncertainty of the world then, Joseph always sought and loved the Lord, deserving the Scriptures’ eulogy that described him as a just and wise man. May each of us be so remembered and honored.