March 20, 2017
THE FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH
Reading 1 – 2 SM 7:4-5A, 12-14A, 16
The LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David,
‘When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'”
Responsorial Psalm – PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
R. (37) The son of David will live for ever.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness,
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. The son of David will live for ever.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. The son of David will live for ever.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. The son of David will live for ever.
Reading 2 – ROM 4:13, 16-18, 22
Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.
Verse Before the Gospel – PS 84:5
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, O Lord;
they never cease to praise you.
Gospel – MT 1:16, 18-21, 24A
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
or – LK 2:41-51A
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.
The Lord Jesus who brought about the most revolutionary impact on Human History had the same physical beginnings and nurturing surroundings that every human being throughout our history has the potential of experiencing: it is THE FAMILY, which has been called “the nucleus of human civilization.” However, this fundamental center of our world has seen corrosion. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta captured the urgency of this message when she wrote:
“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
Most of us first learned and experienced Jesus through our families as well as our morals, manners, socialization and even temperaments that we take into our adult lives. When the family is broken and fragmented, society follows suit. Do we really need any proof of this phenomenon?
Manhood and authentic examples that help direct children and families toward health and happiness are desperately needed. What does a healthy man look like? I once read a statement in a bulletin from a young man who at the time was a 16-year old high school sophomore. His parents divorced when he was 8 years old. His father left and has never returned. His stepdad, a tyrannical and poor excuse for a man treated him poorly and had the nasty habit of telling him to “shut up,” that he’s worthless, stupid and will never amount to anything. But if anyone asked him about his dream and his eyes would light up. This is what he wrote:
“I’d like to move in next door to my dad without him knowing who I was. And I’d like to just become his friend. Once I had become his friend then maybe it would be OK for me to move on with my life. Even though I’ve had so many problems in my life, I do believe I know what a real man is:
A real man is kind.
A real man is caring.
A real man walks away from silly macho fights.
A real man helps his wife.
A real man helps his kids when they are sick.
A real man doesn’t run away from his problems.
A real man sticks to his word and keeps his promises.
A real man is honest.
A real man is not in trouble with the law.”
This brief essay is written by a boy who has never really been around a man, never really seen one. But there is something so inherent, so ingrained, so intrinsic so fundamental, that even a young man who has never seen it modeled can put it into words. It’s one lonely boy’s vision of a man who stays. A man who is both an authority and under authority.
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. This reminds us all that Jesus was raised in a great family. Thank God. In that setting, He was able to come to a complete understanding of who He was and why He came for us. From the Gospel of Luke cited above, we find one of the key passages in the life of Jesus. “Your father and I,” said Mary, “have been looking for you with great anxiety.”“Did you not know,” said Jesus, “that I must be in my Father’s house?”
See how very gently but very definitely Jesus takes the name “father” from Joseph and gives it to God. At some time Jesus must have discovered his own unique relationship to God. He cannot have known it when he was a child in the manger and a baby at his mother’s breast or he would be a monstrosity. As the years went on he must have had thoughts; and then at this first Passover, with manhood dawning, there came in a sudden blaze of realization the consciousness that he was in a unique sense the Son of God.
Here we have the story of the day when it is certain that Jesus discovered who he was. And mark this–the discovery did not make him proud. It did not make him look down on his humble parents, the gentle Mary and the hard-working Joseph. He went home and He was obedient to them. The fact that He was God’s Son made him the perfect son of his human parents.
Prayer to St. Joseph
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.