Saturday, 19 December 2020 09:19

Homily delivered by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown during the third day of Simbang Gabi at St. Anthony Parish in Singalong, Manila on December 18, 2020, at 5:30 a.m.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what a joy it is to be with you on this early morning to celebrate this Simbang Gabi Mass here in the local parish, Anthony.

As I mentioned in the Mass, I am the Apostolic Nuncio sent by your pope, Pope Francis, our wonderful Holy Father who loves the country Philippines so deep. I was only with him about a month ago in Rome, he remembered with great affection, with great love his visit here, he came to the Philippines.

Archbishop Charles John Brown, newly appointed Papal Nuncio to the Philippines | Photo by Maricar Santos/RCAM-AOC

Brothers and sisters, we are preparing for the celebration of Christmas. Celebration of the nativity of the Lord, Jesus, our God born as a little baby in the poverty of Bethlehem. At born in riches, in splendor, in power but born in humility and poverty in the little town of Bethlehem.

Our Gospel today focuses on the figure of St. Joseph. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t appropriate because in this year, brothers and sisters, Pope Francis, our dear Holy Father has dedicated this year as the year of St. Joseph from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021. You’re meditating on the figure of St. Joseph because this is the 150th anniversary of when St. Joseph was declared Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX.

This anniversary, 150 years, we meditate on the beautiful figure of St. Joseph and that is exactly who was in the gospel today. St. Joseph who learned about Mary’s pregnancy. As I read in the opening meditation for Mass, this causes a crisis in St. Joseph. 

Let us remember what happened. Mary and Joseph were engaged. They were living in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph’s home, their town. Before the marriage celebration, Mary was found to be pregnant with the child Jesus. We don’t know from the gospel how St. Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy. The gospel doesn’t tell us but we can imagine, of course, brothers and sisters, the most normal way would be for Mary to come and tell St. Joseph, her fiancé that she was pregnant. And of course, St. Joseph would know that he was not the biological father of her child.

This of course was a crisis, and we can imagine for a moment the thoughts that would go through Joseph's mind. Yet we heard in the gospel that Joseph decided at first to divorce her quietly and says, that means to end his engagement and not get married to her.

But I think when we look deeply there and we don’t know exactly what was completely going through Joseph’s mind, my view, I think Joseph believed Mary. Mary came to Joseph, she said, I am pregnant. I’m pregnant in a miraculous way. An angel has come to me and told me that I am to bear a child to save all of humanity.

I believe that Joseph believed her because remember later on when Joseph thinks…continue with his engagement, the angel comes to him and says, don’t be afraid Joseph to take Mary to your house. The angel doesn’t say that Joseph, Mary told you the truth. The angel doesn’t try to convince Joseph but Mary told him the truth about what happened with her pregnancy. Instead, he says, the angel says to Joseph, Don’t be afraid.

I believe that Joseph believed Mary when she told him what happened. But he thought, what this has to do with me? This is a miraculous pregnancy. In his mind, we probably have the same words to be with you later on in the gospel when Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The baby jumps, the baby John the Baptist jumps in the womb of Elizabeth. And Elizabeth says, who am I, that the mother of the Lord should come to me?

In some ways, I think that was Joseph’s first reaction, who am I? What is my role? She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I step aside. She can raise the baby with her parents, Joachim and Anne, and the baby will save…. I have no role in this.

And that is when the angel then came to tell him, Don’t be afraid. You do have a role. You will give him the name of Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.

So, the angel told him, don’t step away. Don’t let her simply raise her child with her parents. Be a father to this child. Give him the name of Jesus. Save us from our sins.” And Joseph said, yes. Joseph said, yes, and became part of God’s plan. Remember, baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, Joseph’s town where all the prophecies said that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. He is only born in Bethlehem because Joseph said yes. If Joseph instead, I step aside, this is too much for me. This is between Mary and God. I will let the baby be raised by Joachim and Ann. If he would have done that, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem because Bethlehem was Joseph’s town where will here in a few days Joseph went to be registered in his senses. God’s plan was accomplished because Joseph had trust in God. And Joseph did what God had wanted him to do. Joseph was part of God’s plan.

That was what he was afraid of in the beginning. He is afraid that this child has nothing to do with me. This is between Mary and God. No, Joseph, you are part of God’s plan. You have an important role to play. You would give him his name. You would take him to Bethlehem. You would be his father in the eyes of the world.

And brothers and sisters, isn’t that true for all of us this morning? Each and every one of us here in St. Anthony’s Parish here in Manila, each of us, each of you, we have a role to play in God’s plan. We have to be like Joseph, listening and obedient to God. And when we do that God’s plan works through us. When we are fearful, when we step aside we say, oh, no, this is too much for me. Then God’s mysterious plan cannot be worked through us. We need to have the courage of St. Joseph. We have to have the trust of St. Joseph. We need to imitate him in his obedience and then God’s plan work through us. It doesn’t matter what kind of vocation you have. Maybe you’re a father for family, maybe you’re a student, maybe you’re a mother, maybe you’re a grandmother, grandfather, God’s plan is working through you if you allow it to happen. If you obey God. If you follow his teachings. If you listen to Him. If you pray. If you’re open as St. Joseph was.

So, this is why we love St. Joseph so much. He of course was obedient to God. He receives Mary and the child. He protects Mary and the child. He is the guardian. He is the protector of the baby Jesus. You will see that in Bethlehem. You will see that in the flight in Egypt when Herod tries to kill the baby Jesus and Joseph saves him by bringing Mary and the baby into Egypt. Isn’t beautiful?

My brothers and sisters, on this preparation day for Christmas, on this third day of Simbang Gabi, let us ask Joseph to intercede for us during this year dedicated to him, that we would be open to God’s plan in our life. And we will do God’s will and then my brothers and sisters, we will see miracles before us.

May God bless you, keep you and protect you. May you have a blessed and beautiful and Merry Christmas. (Archdiocese of Manila – Office of Communications/RCAM-AOC) 


Please, enter your name
Please, enter your phone number
Please, enter your e-mail address Mail address is not not valid
Please, enter your message
Copyright © 2020 Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Statement | Terms of Use | Disclaimer