4th Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 22, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

God created us for happiness.  So are you happy?

Today we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent and so I would like to talk about the 4th and final cardinal virtue; the virtue of prudence.  The virtue of prudence has to do with keeping our emotions in check.  Emotions, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, are a good thing.  But only if we are in control of our emotions, and not the other way around.  Prudence is the virtue which reigns in our emotions and directs them to the proper end. Joseph in today’s gospel is a great example of prudence.  Joseph hears that his wife is pregnant even though they have not had relations.  Guys, I don’t know about you, but if I got news like this, I would be pi… angry.  I would be angry. But Joseph has the prudence to deal confusion, disappointment and even anger.  First, Joseph shows natural or acquired prudence.  Instead of getting angry at Mary and trying to get back at her, we hear that he is a just man and decided to simply divorce her quietly so she does not have to face public shame.  But we hear that Joseph also shows infused and supernatural prudence through the message of a dream and so decides to take Mary into his home. 

If we are not careful, emotions can rule our life and steal our happiness.  Emotions like anger, jealousy, greed and pride can rule our lives and rob us of true peace and happiness.  There is a reason they are called deadly sins.  These emotions can kill our freedom and happiness. 

Let me share with you my favorite analogy that helps understand the virtue of prudence.  Passions and emotions are powerful and that is a good thing.  It is like the power of 2 horses that pull a chariot and so the power of those horses is good to take us to our destination.  The problem is, if we don’t have control of the reigns, the horses will go wherever they want; maybe even over a cliff. The virtue of prudence is like having control of the reigns to direct or guide these emotions so they can take us where we need to go.  Let me give you a few examples:

1.      I have heard that it is wise for married couples to never go to bed angry.  This is the virtue of prudence that while a couple might pis… might make each other angry, they will not let this emotion rule their relationship.  I remember hearing a wife explain that she knew she love her husband because there are days that she has the desire and passion to sew his head to the carpet.  But instead she chooses to talk it out with him, not letting her emotions get the best of the relationship.

2.      It is a natural human thing to experience the desire of lust.  But the virtue of prudence recognizes that we were made for more than this selfish desire and directs the passion toward authentic good and love of another person.    

It is natural to experience our emotions and passions.  But it is supernatural to be in control of those emotions and passions.  Are there certain emotions that get the best of us?  What do we need to do to make sure our emotions don’t rob us of the joy God wants for us? The virtue of prudence gives us the freedom to direct these emotions toward authentic beauty and happiness in our lives.

God created us for happiness.  May we have the virtue of prudence and open the doors of happiness.