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Father Muench Says...

Christmas, St. Joseph and place of mercy

Dec. 23, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Each year at Christmas time, I have been telling the same story.  You have to understand the story is about the most exciting day of my life.  I am sure I have told you this story before: Susan and Paul invited me to be with them at the birth of their second child; his name is Will.  Will is now a freshman in college so I’ve told the story for many Christmases.  I have not forgotten any of the details of that day.  It was a special time for me. 

The world has changed a great deal since the day of Will’s birth.  This world continues to be plagued with war, violence and much hatred.   I wish I was smart enough to offer the world’s leaders a solution so that the future will be filled with peace.  However, I haven’t caught up with them.

This time of violence has resulted in the dreadful situation of huge numbers of displaced people – migrants wandering this world to find a peaceful place to live. 

The Christmas story reminds me that Mary and Joseph were migrants away from home when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  They were far from home.  It makes for an interesting question: would we have accepted them without a visa into our country?

I have watched the news about these migrants and kept up to date about their stories.  It is rather obvious that they are very uncomfortable and uncertain about their future.  This made me think of St. Joseph’s situation as he had to figure out what to do.  He was away from home and had the responsibility for his wife and a new born baby.

This all came to mind this morning.  I stopped at the store for a newspaper and the guys having coffee had all sorts of questions.  They were wondering why there wasn’t more information about St. Joseph.  They were very curious about him.

I know the Gospel story doesn’t tell us much about St. Joseph’s situation.  I did agree with the guys that it would have been interesting to know more about St. Joseph.  I was rather impressed that they were so concerned about St. Joseph. I am absolutely certain that that first Christmas day was rather busy for St. Joseph.  Of course, this would be just the beginning for St. Joseph – a time of the challenges of protecting his family.  He had many decisions to make and there would be many things to understand.

Throughout the centuries of the Catholic Church, a strong spirituality has developed around St. Joseph.  He is the protector – the protector of the Savior of our world and the Blessed Mother.

Many religious communities have chosen St. Joseph as their patron and protector.  I immediately think of our Sisters of St. Joseph here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.  These Sisters have been such an important part of the life of our diocese.  I have had the privilege of working with many of the Sisters of St. Joseph in various parishes and schools.  So, I take this opportunity to wish a Happy Christmas to our Sisters of St. Joseph and I offer them my gratitude for all they have done for me and all of us in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Christmas and all the best for a Peaceful New Year.  This will be quite a year for us, Catholics, as we celebrate Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Pope Francis has challenged us all to make this a year of love and forgiveness, a time to bring God’s mercy more alive in our own hearts so that we can bring that Mercy to all those we meet to our world.  Our task this year is to make our world a better place, a place of love, a place of Peace, a place of forgiveness, a place of Mercy.

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