When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child . . .

MT 1:18

Luke’s and Matthew’s nativity narratives are quite dissimilar. The Biblical scholar Ray Brown counted only eight points of similarity. The most basic difference is that Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective and Matthew from Joseph’s, almost as if they had divvied up the duty. But both parents face this fact: Mary is pregnant and not by Joseph.

Both have visits from angels, who terrify them, but are calmed by the standard angel greeting, “do not be afraid.” Mary accepts her discipleship despite knowing the consequence, and Joseph accepts his after the angel assures him that his wife really has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and it is the divine will that he should take the child as his own.

Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous serenity prayer seems apt for this situation:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

As much as I’ve liked this prayer, the Nativity story suggests that it misses the mark. Wisdom is

not about us deciding what to change and what to accept. Wisdom is about discerning God’s

will. Following God’s will requires courage, and yes, please God, give us serenity because

sometimes it leads to a cross.

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Stewardship Corner

Weekly Updates from our Stewardship Commission


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

Saturday, September 19, 2020
In today’s Gospel, a vineyard owner goes to the town square during the day to hire laborers. At the end of the day, he rewards each equally... Read More

Wrath and anger are hateful things.

Thursday, September 17, 2020
Sirach may have hated wrath and anger but wrath and anger are hate-filled emotions. Mostly they are full of self-hate from a profound frustration... Read More

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Thursday, September 17, 2020
OK. This isn’t about this week’s readings. It’s the same reading I commented on last week in regards to materialism and the... Read More

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Saturday, August 29, 2020
Oh, boy. St. Paul is talking about prayer again and here sets out a daunting prayer challenge: first we must figure out how we are conforming to... Read More

For from God and through God and for God are all things.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Today’s reading from Paul immediately follows last week’s passages about God delivering all to disobedience so that God may show mercy.... Read More

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

Friday, August 14, 2020
What? God delivers all to disobedience??? Well, God, after all, did put the snake in Eden. There is no redemption without sin. Those of us who are... Read More

Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

Monday, August 10, 2020
Or pandemics or racism? Same answer. In the reading from Matthew, Jesus is grieving for John the Baptist, who has just been executed in the prison... Read More

“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart.”

Monday, August 10, 2020
I have a New American Bible, revised, that translates this passage with “a listening heart.”  I have also seen this translated as... Read More