Today we are celebrating the feast of Saint Joseph: come, let us worship Christ the Lord.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
Nothing is known of St Joseph except what is said of him in the Gospels. He was a carpenter; he accepted the will of God; and he supported Mary and brought up Jesus. From the human character of his son we can see that he was a good and responsible father. He is widely venerated as a patron of artisans who honourably do good work with the gifts God has given them, and of workers in general. To those who exercise the role of an adoptive parent, whether formally or informally, whether over one child or as the support of a whole family, he is a source of inspiration. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
|40 Days and 40 Ways: St Joseph|
He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men. (Lk 2:51-52)
2 S 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
King David was a complex character, but the reason why he cannot be simply dismissed as a murderous rogue is made clear in the first reading. He was certainly a leader for whom people would die. He was pleased with himself when he had settled in Jerusalem and made it his capital, and more, God’s capital, by transferring to Jerusalem the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence among his people. Having built himself a fine house, he thinks he will build a house for God too. But God will not be patronised by this successful bandit, now king. no, God will build David a House, a House which will last for ever, which will of course need correction, but which will be corrected lovingly and never exterminated. In the dark days that followed, this promise would be Israel’s standby and hope.
Rm 4:13, 16-18, 22
But how could Joseph be father of Jesus, who was born of a virgin? There are two interpretations of the scene with the angel messenger described in Matthew. The first is that Joseph suspected Mary of impropriety but was magnanimous enough to suggest a divorce which would spare her blushes. But why then was he described precisely as “just”? Kindly, forgiving, perhaps, but not “just”! The other interpretation makes more sense: knowing that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit, he thought he was unworthy to compete, and should quietly withdraw. “no,” says the angel, “you have a job to do – namely to adopt Jesus into the House of David and so fulfil the prophecy.”
Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24 or Lk 2:41-51a
This is precisely what Joseph does. The story reaches its climax when he names the child, for only a father names a child, and by naming the child Joseph adopts him into the House of David. This is certainly “just” in Matthew’s sense of fulfilling the Law, for he fulfils the promise to David. Apart from this we know little about Joseph. In Matthew 13:55 Jesus is described as the son of “the construction worker” (not so precise as “carpenter”), one of several siblings. One way of combining this with the fact that Mary remained a virgin is to assume that Joseph had been married before, and these were half siblings.
In mediaeval times this was padded out by the fact that he appears nowhere in the Gospels during Jesus’s adult life, so he was guessed to be an older man who had already died. In mediaeval mystery plays he is sometimes an old fool, a clown, set opposite the holy Mary. This is wholly without foundation. Our only other fact about Joseph is that after the incident in the Temple Jesus “was subject to them” (Lk 2:51). It is fascinating to speculate about their conversations together, the construction worker and the child who was God. Was the child funny, mischievous, rich in that staggeringly simple childish wisdom, a fascinating companion, full of surprises? Joseph must have been a person of striking depth and strength, for Jesus called God his Father, and he must have formed an idea of fatherhood from his adoptive father, Joseph.
Meditate on the relationship between Mary and Joseph using a decade of the Rosary.
This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Henry Wansbrough, published by the Catholic Truth Society and used by permission. “40 Days and 40 Ways” has meditations for each day in Lent. To find out more about the booklet, or to buy it, please visit the CTS web site.
The Universalis Readings at Mass page shows the readings for today’s Mass.
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Proverbs 2:7-8 ©|
He keeps his help for honest men, he is the shield of those whose ways are honourable; he stands guard over the paths of justice, he keeps watch on the way of his devoted ones.
|Noon reading (Sext)||(Wisdom 10:10) ©|
As the virtuous man fled, Wisdom led him along straight paths. She showed him the kingdom of God and taught him the knowledge of holy things. She brought him success in his toil and gave him full return for all his efforts.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Ecclesiasticus 2:15-16 ©|
Those who fear the Lord do not disdain his words, and those who love him keep his ways. Those who fear the Lord do their best to please him, and those who love him find satisfaction in his Law.