Christmas Homily 2020 from Fr David
In a Nativity play, two of the important roles are Mary and Joseph. Despite this fact, in this is my 28th Christmas homily as a priest and I have never in all those years of preaching homed in on St Joseph. This is a blatant omission but I am going to put things right. That’s because this year Pope Francis has declared a year of St Joseph which started on 8th December. Joseph did not exactly have an easy time leading up to the birth of Jesus. All the unique circumstances around Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit would have been very difficult to accept for a lesser man than Joseph. One of his greatest qualities is that he trusted God, he also listened to God and was guided by what he heard.
As well as this, he was chosen by God because of his simple faith and his love for Mary. He materially provided for Jesus through his trade, and thus provided a loving home for him. Joseph was a descendant of King David which links Jesus with him, and is the reason why Jesus was born in Bethlehem, David’s town, which is where the prophets foretold the Messiah (the Christ) would come from.
No actual words of St Joseph are recorded in the Gospels/Bible ~ but he is a highly revered saint perhaps even a bit underrated by many people. However his actions speak louder than any words ever could. I am reminded of the words of the Ronan Keating song ~ “You say it best when you say nothing at all”. That sums up Joseph a quiet, simple, trusting and trustworthy man of God whose loving actions spoke louder than any words ever could.
Therefore what better role model and companion can we have through the continuing Pandemic than to have St Joseph, a man of few words but very powerful selfless loving actions. Through the uncertain circumstances he finds himself in he continues to trust God and be guided by him. As well as the unusual circumstances leading up to the birth of Christ, Joseph also had to deal with finding somewhere to stay in busy Bethlehem; he no doubt despite the anxious circumstance remained calm and serene. Also he will go onto lead the Holy Family into exile in Egypt to protect the newly born Christ from danger of death. In our own uncertain times we need the assuring St Joseph at our side to reassure us all will be well if we trust in God.
Please gaze (from more of a distance than usual) upon the crib scene this Christmas either here in church or our beautiful new hand-made crib outside St Mary’s church amidst the hustle and bustle of Yorkshire street in the heart of Burnley. As you do so notice among the other beautiful figures of Jesus, Mary, the shepherds and the animals, the reassuring and serene presence of St Joseph. Remember he has been put there by God gently but calmly without need for words telling us to trust, to keep our faith and remain full of hope.