Dear Sacred Heart of Jesus Family,
When we know we are loved, it changes everything. We are called by God to know Him and His Love. Out of this grows loving service. This all sounds very nice. What happens when we live lives of quiet despair? When we don’t know or feel that we are loved, and experience disappointments in relationships, when we fail and/or others fail us, and on top of all that, God seems a million miles away? Are we called to live our life and faith like a greeting card, looking for pixie dust to take away our sadness or loneliness?
I would propose that this weekend’s Mass readings proclaim a different, encouraging message. What an interesting challenge the responsorial psalm proposes: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Why would a person harden their hearts at the voice of God? Isn’t it automatic that we would rejoice at his voice? Apparently not.
Depending on our current, past, or ongoing experience in life, our hearts and minds can be filled with worries, pain, and anxiety. It is so much harder to hear God, or anyone, for that fact, when we are filled with anxiety and suffering. Saint Paul says today in the second reading, “I should like you to be free of anxieties.”
How can we be free, who can help us? If it is not so easy to always hear God, and we filter His voice through our lived experience, is there anyone who can help? As we start 2018 off, I would like to strongly encourage you to get to know Saint Joseph. He is our spiritual Father, who can help us discover how deeply and perfectly we are loved by our Good God. This man is good, decent, a friend of God, a teacher of prayer, and a prayer warrior beyond belief. God knew how wonderful he was, and that the Lord could entrust the Christ Child and Our Lady to his care. Saint Joseph is more powerful than ever. In December, on the Feast of the Holy Family I mentioned his help for St. Katherine Drexel. An even stronger voice of testimony can be heard from Saint Teresa of Avila, the great Woman Doctor and Reformer of Carmel. Listen to her witness:
“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious saint, for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast, and I always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good.” She continues: “I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue, for he helps in a special way those souls who recommend themselves to him.
I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors which God hath given me through this blessed saint, the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and of soul.”
In about two months on March 19th, we will honor his Solemnity with special devotion. As we begin the year, entrust yourself, your relationships, your life, work, success, dreams and discipleship to him. I don’t think you will be disappointed. He will calm our anxieties, guide us, and help us hear the loving Voice of God in our hearts.
In Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Bjorn Lundberg