Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph! He is the patron saint of the universal Church

St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. - St Josemaria Escriva

Gospel text (Mt 1,16.18-21.24a): Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ ­—the Messiah.

This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be preg­nant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, «Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him “Jesus” for he will save his people from their sins». When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home.

Today, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Saint Joseph, Mary's husband. One may ask, Why was St. Joseph chosen to be the foster father of the Son of God?

First, Joseph was a good man. St. Matthew writes that he was a "just" or "righteous" man. He was "holy," a man in a right relationship with God. He may not have been flashy on the outside but he shone on the inside. As Pope Benedict once said in a rare play on words, St. Joseph "ad-justed" his life to the word of God.

Second, he was "righteous" precisely because he was docile and obedient to God. We see his prompt obedience in his response to the angel of God's three interventions in his dreams not to be afraid to take Mary, his wife, into his home, to get up and flee to Egypt, and to return home once again. It would have been easy for Joseph to deconstruct these dreams according to the standard of his conscious desires. Each dream was asking him to do something totally life-changing: to alter completely his notion of what his marriage would entail; to leave his job and his relatives completely behind and journey through the desert to an unknown land; to return once life was settled. But in each of these circumstances, Joseph acted immediately.

Third, St. Joseph was faithful. He was obedient because he believed.

Fourth, St. Joseph was humble, humble enough to raise Jesus with reverence. The great early Christian theologian Origen wrote about him, "Joseph understood that Jesus was superior to him even as he submitted to him, and, knowing the superiority of his charge, he commanded him with respect and moderation.

Fifth, he was a model of chaste spousal and paternal love. He is a true father, but not according to the flesh, because like God the Father he is at the service of life and growth. He was a protector and a provider and a real paragon of chaste love. His life shows us that the full gift of self toward another does not necessarily have to involve genital relations. He loved Mary and that meant that he was willing to dedicate himself to what was best for her and for the divine Son she was carrying.

Sixth, he was a hard worker centering his work on the Lord.

Lastly, St. Joseph is a silent man of action. He never says a word in Sacred Scripture and yet his actions are remembered to this day.

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