Homily on Saint Joseph's Day
March 20, 2006
at the 8:30 A.M. Mass

By Sister Margie Kelly, CSJ

Today's readings certainly set the stage and provide a wonderful backdrop
for the great person we celebrate today - St. Joseph -
patron of the poor, the Church, fathers, workers, and patron of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
These readings speak clearly of RELATIONSHIP, PROMISE and HOPE
and remind us of how an individual's ability to listen to and to respond to God can change, not only that person's life, but the lives of many, even in succeeding generations.

In the first reading from Samuel, God speaks to Naman of a promise he was making to David -
a promise not only of a house and kingdom that would last forever, but the promise that God would relate to David and his descendants as a father relates to a son.
Could Naman or David ever have imagined
that their ability to listen and respond to God's promise
would shape the life and faith of the people of God for so many generations?
Could they ever have imagined it?

The second reading speaks again of God's promise,
that Abraham and his descendants would inherit the world.
This promise, the reading says, is a gift
and is GUARANTEED to all who adhere to the law
AND follow the faith of Abraham.
Because Abraham's faith was based on a deep relationship with God,
he was able to “hope against hope” that God's promise would be fulfilled.
Like Naman and David, Could Abraham ever have imagined
that his relationship with God and his hope in God's promise
would mean so much to the faith of the people of God for so many generations?
Could he ever have imagined it?

And in the Gospel we see again how PROMISE, RELATIONSHIP and HOPE are evidenced in the experience of Joseph.
We're told that Joseph was a righteous man - he knew and obeyed the law;
but he also had a heart
and he struggled with how to balance respect for the law
with compassion for the person who was to be subjected to that law.
Joseph HAD to have known God;
his ability to understand love as the basis for the law
HAD to have come from his relationship with God.
I really think that it was because Joseph was used to listening to God,
that he was able to hear God speak to him in his struggle,
even through the words of an angel in a dream in his sleep.
Like Naman and David and Abraham, could Joseph ever have imagined
that his relationship with God and his ability to listen to and obey God's word
would make such a difference for the people of God?
Could he ever have imagined it?

So today we celebrate this man -
righteous, compassionate, carpenter, dreamer,
husband, father, man of faith, hope and love.
And we celebrate the inspiration and example he is for so many people of faith:
  • for those who know the joys as well as the frustration, the fear and the inadequacy that Joseph must have felt in his role as husband and father;
  • for those who struggle with decisions
  • for those who have to work hard for what they need
  • for those who are entrusted with the care of the least among us
  • for artists and craftsmen and for all who use their creative gifts in service to others.
I am here today as a Sister of St. Joseph - for 39 years
PROUD to be part of a community of women who claim Joseph as our patron and
PROUD to be celebrating this year, 2006,
    150 years of the presence and ministry of
    the Sisters of St. Joseph on Long Island.
I am PROUD of so many of my sisters who, in the shadow of Joseph,
have lived and worked and struggled against great odds
to nourish the gift of faith in so many generations.
I am PROUD of the gifts, talents and energy that have been so generously offered in the spirit of Joseph -
in education, nursing, social work and other ministries.
I am IN AWE of the challenges that have been met,
the obstacles that have been overcome,
the accomplishments that have been achieved
and the impact made by individual sisters
and by our congregation as a whole,
all in the style of Joseph.
And I have been touched and inspired by the faith, courage, hope, compassion and prayer of the sisters who claim Joseph's charism.
Day by day, person by person, decision by decision, kindness by kindness,
wonderful things have happened in these 150 years
with God's care and protection,
Joseph's example and influence
and the presence of the Spirit.
Like Naman and David, Abraham and Joseph,
Could those three Sisters of St. Joseph who came to Brooklyn from France and started a school in 1856 ever have imagined that their lives of love and service would make such a difference for the people of God and for the Church?
Could they ever have imagined?

Joseph's vocation unfolded and he learned what his calling really meant as he listened to God and hoped in God's promise.

And so it is with us.
Like Joseph, we listen to God and hope in God's promise
as we “grow into our skin”
and learn to live our vocation
as parent, spouse, single man or woman, priest, deacon or sister.

Can we try to imagine how our ability to listen to God and hope in God's promise
Could make a difference for ourselves and for others
Even in future generations?
Can we simply imagine it?

And so on this great feast of St. Joseph,
We pray in thanksgiving to God for the gift of Naman and David, Abraham and Joseph
and for all who have known and listened to God, and treasured God's promise.
We pray in thanksgiving for all of the Sisters of St. Joseph who have come before us
and for the almost 150 Sisters of St. Joseph
who have touched the lives of so many in HNM parish.
And we pray that Joseph will continue to be for each of us and for our parish, a source of inspiration, strength and hope.


Sister Margie Kelly is a Sister of St. Joseph and is the Parish Outreach Coordinator here at Holy Name of Mary. When she came to Holy Name in 1983, Sister Margie began and developed the Parish Outreach Program and continues to organize and direct its many activities and areas of concern.

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