16 December 2013

"See how God permits His servants to be afflicted and sorely tried, that they may so receive their crown."

Let us consider how our blessed Lady, having returned to Nazareth, is overwhelmed with joy to feel living within her Him, who gives being to every created thing, and whom she loves with all the intensity of the Mother of God.  Joseph, the faithful guardian of her virginity, tenderly loves this his spouse, and blesses God for having entrusted such a treasure to his keeping.  The angels crowd round this favored house wherein dwell their sovereign Lord, and she whom He has chosen to be His Mother.  Never was there happiness like that which fills this little dwelling; and yet, God has decreed to visit it with a heavy trial, in order that He may give an occasion to Mary to exercise heroic patience, and to Joseph an occasion of meriting by his exquisite prudence. 

Let us listen to the Meditation of St. Bonaventure, in which he thus ponders the Gospel narrative:

'But while our Lady and Joseph her spouse were thus dwelling together, the Infant Jesus grew within His Mother's womb.  Then Joseph, perceiving that Mary was with Child, was above all measure grieved.  Here give, I pray thee, all thine attention, for thou has many fair things to learn.  If thou wouldst know wherefore it was that our Lord wished that His Mother should have a husband, whereas He always wished that she should be a Virgin, I answer thee that He so wished on three accounts:  firstly, that she might not be disgraced when it was seen that she was a Mother; secondly, that she might have Joseph's aid and company; and thirdly, that the birth of the Son of God might be concealed from the devil.

'Now, Joseph did look many times on Mary, and grief and trouble of heart fell upon him, and his displeasure was seen in his face, and he turned his eyes away from her as one that was guilty of that which he perforce suspected.  See how God permits His servants to be afflicted and sorely tried, that they may so receive their crown.  Now Joseph was minded to put her away privately.  In very truth may it be said of this holy man, that his praise is in the Gospel, for the Gospel says of him that he was a just man, that is, a man of great virtue.  For albeit they say that no shame, nor suffering, nor insult can befall a man so grievous as that of his wife's unfaithfulness; yet did Joseph retrain himself withal, and would not accuse Mary, but bore this great injury patiently.  He sought not how to avenge himself, but, overcome with pity, and wishing to forgive, he was minded to put her away privately.  But herein also had our Lady her share of tribulation, for she took notice of Joseph's trouble, and it sorely grieved her.  Yet did she humbly hold her peace, and hide the gift of God.  Better did it seem unto her that evil should be thought of her than that she should reveal the divine mystery, and say aught of herself which would come nigh to boasting.  Therefore did she beseech our Lord that Himself would right this matter, and make pass this grief from Joseph and herself.  Here thou mayst learn what great tribulation and anxiety was theirs.  But God came unto their assistance.

'He therefore sent His angel, who spake unto Joseph in his sleep, and told him that his spouse had conceived of the Holy Ghost, and that he was to abide with her in all surety and joy.  Whereupon, the tribulation ceased, and they were both exceedingly comforted.  So likewise would it befall us if we would suffer patiently, for after a storm God brings a calm.  Neither oughtest thou to doubt this, for God suffereth not His servants to be afflicted save for their good.  After this, Joseph requested our Lady to narrate unto him what had happened; and she faithfully narrated all unto him.  Whereupon Joseph remains with his blessed spouse, and lives with her in all contentment, and loves her above what words can say, and diligently provides her with whatsoever she needed.  So also our Lady continues to remain confidently with Joseph, and they live right joyfully in their poverty.'

--From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger


David Heath said...

Thank you for this...very comforting words for Advent.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful reminder. Thanks.