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Joseph, Our Model
Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Matthew 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, you had a loving earthly father who taught and cared for you. Open my heart to learn from him as I reflect on this episode of Joseph’s life.
- Joseph’s Discernment: How did Joseph discern that the dream he had was from God? Most of us awakening from a dream would not think, “Now I know what God is asking of me.” Yet, Joseph discerned, then acted upon, his dream, promptly and obediently. Pope Francis has declared a “Year of St. Joseph,” from December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021, In his declaration, he noted that in all of the dreams through which God spoke to Joseph, “Joseph declared his own ‘fiat,’ like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.” (Patris Corde # 3) So often we reflect upon the “yes” of Mary, but Joseph also offered his “yes” to God. We didn’t hear his audible “yes.” His affirmation of what God was asking of him came through prompt, obedient action.
- Joseph’s Reward: Joseph was rewarded for his virtue with the gift of naming the Messiah. Naming gives authority over the one being named. Joseph must have been awestruck by the gift of earthly authority over the Savior of the world. This delegated authority was a moment of humility for Joseph, and he found the strength to carry out his role knowing that God had called him to this. God always gives us the grace to do his will.
- Joseph’s Courage: Joseph took Mary and eventually Jesus into his home and into his heart. He had no idea what his future held—Herod wanting to kill Jesus, the flight into Egypt, the Holy Family’s return from Egypt, daily life in the carpentry shop, and teaching Jesus to pray. Pope Francis invites us to meditate on the creative courage of Joseph in every circumstance: “This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had” (Patris Corde # 5).
Conversing with Christ:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen (Pope Francis, Patris Corde).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will muster the courage to take up a task that I know needs to be done but I have struggled to undertake.
For Further Reflection: The Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), by Pope Francis or watch, listen or read The Faithful Steward: A Retreat Guide on St. Joseph.
Father Joshua West is a Legionary of Christ priest serving as chaplain at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.