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Lenten Reflection Day 40 – Holy Thursday

Opening Prayer:

Lord, you tell us to pray, ask and seek in your name with humble, watchful, persevering, and confident hearts.  I come to you this day and ask for your inspiration as I seek to do your Divine Will, and to make you known and loved in my home and community. Amen.

 

Reflection:

This is the final of 40 Reflections on the theme “Lent in the Spirit of St. Joseph”.  I hope as Men of St. Joseph, these have assisted in edifying your Lenten Observances and have assisted in dedicating yourselves more fully to the patronage of St. Joseph as a model for Catholic Manhood.  Starting on 23 April, 2017, the members of the Men of St. Joseph will be invited to participate in a Novena Consecration to St. Joseph so that our examination of his example in our Lenten Reflections can culminate into a greater devotion to St. Joseph on his Feast Day, St. Joseph the Worker.

Today begins the Triduum – the three most holy days in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.  Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  Good Friday commemorates the sacrifice of Christ on the cross – a sacrifice that was made for all time and all for all people.  Holy Saturday allows us to contemplate Christ being dead in the tomb and then celebrate his Resurrection at Easter Vigil during the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord.  During these three days, Jesus lives the example of his teachings that we are all sent to do the Will of the Father, that we should forgive so as to be forgiven, the we are here to serve our fellow man, and that we should strive to be perfect as the Father is perfect.  In these three days Jesus teaches us that his path truly requires us to give everything we have, but that ultimately our joy will come through serving God’s Will, no matter how difficult it may become.

Although tradition holds that St. Joseph had already died before this part of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there are so many profound ties to the life of St. Joseph and these final hours of Jesus’ life that it will only serve to intensify our participation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to contemplate on St. Joseph’s relationship with his Foster Son.  At the Last Supper, when Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist, he begins the evening by washing the feet of his disciples.  He demonstrates the intimacy that is created when one humbles themselves to serve another – and more fully exemplifies that to truly be a disciple, one must serve even the most basic needs of his fellow man.  I cannot help correlate this moment to St. Joseph’s interactions which Jesus as a young man.  St. Joseph was a teacher to our Lord in the ways of his industry, his faith and his societal expectations.  St. Joseph taught our Lord as the Master of his home, but I can also see Jesus returning home from working in the workshop with his foster father to their evening meal with Mary, and St. Joseph removing Jesus’ sandals and helping to wash his feet.  The same hands which taught Jesus how to hammer and saw, how to pray and fast, and how to attend to the needs of their neighbors were also the hands which wiped the tears from Jesus’ eyes when he was hurt, scared or hungry; were the same hands which embraced Jesus to comfort him and make him feel loved; and were the same hands that served our Lord in every manner, even the gift of washing his feet.

On Good Friday, when our Lord accepted the cross for the salvation of all the world, again St. Joseph is present.  St. Joseph exemplified to Jesus that following the Will of the Father meant doing so boldly and with your total self.  Though Jesus was fully Divine, he was also fully Human, which meant that he was scared and felt all the physical and emotional toil of having his body broken.  The model of St. Joseph as an unwavering man of faith who boldly tackled every obstacle to fulfill God’s commands and requests, planted that example firmly in Jesus’ own heart to help him through the agony of his crucifixion.  Though St. Joseph was not by Jesus’ side at the crucifixion, his example of total gift to the Father resided in Christ’s heart, and assisted his flesh in withstanding the punishment necessary to bring about salvation for all the world.

At the Easter Vigil we celebrate the triumph of Jesus over hell and the grave.  We are Easter People who live in glory of the resurrection and promise of salvation.  However, we do not remove Jesus from the Cross in our art and religious imagery because we understand that the only way we have a resurrection is to first have a death.  St. Joseph died to himself to serve Jesus.  Jesus died on a cross to serve us.  We must also die to ourselves if we are to fully serve Jesus by serving others, but we are able to do so confidently and boldly because we know that from death comes the promise of resurrection.  There is no Resurrection without Death, and there is no true Joy without the Resurrection, so we must embrace the call to die to all those things which keep us from God so that we may rejoice in the joy which can only come from our dying.  As Jesus was able to fully serve the Will of the Father by continuing to live the faithful example his Foster Father began in him at a young age, may we also be inspired by the life and example of St. Joseph to be men of quality who readily accept the death necessary to bring us to joy of the Resurrected Christ.

 

Ite Ad Joseph!

 

Closing Prayer:

St. Joseph, help me be like you.  Help me to be obedient to the teachings of the Church and faithful to God’s commands.  Help me to patiently endure my cross each day.  Let me be a model of holiness and a pillar of virtue.  I solemnly promise to embrace God’s will and I accept the challenge to work tirelessly for my family’s salvation.  Be my guide and companion on this journey.  St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us.

About Zachary Morgan

Executive Director of the Men of St. Joseph. Zachary is a native of West Virginia and currently lives in Minnesota with his wife Anne and six children. Zachary served the local church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis working in Liturgy, Marriage Preparation, Religious Education and Advocacy for the past 11 years before becoming the Executive Director for the Men of St. Joseph.

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