SOLEMNITY OF SAINT JOSEPH, HUSBAND OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

March 19, 2020

2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16

 

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: 

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. 

Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

 

 

Psalm 89:1-4, 26, 28

 

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’”

He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’

Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him,
and my covenant with him will stand firm.

 

 

Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22

 

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”

Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

 

 

Luke 2:41-51

 

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching 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. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.

 

 

(NRSVCE)

 

 

Meditation

 

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.  Saint Joseph has a great many titles, including “Light of the Patriarchs,” and today, our scriptures use Saint Joseph and the Patriarchs to show us three important points regarding our relationship with God in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

 

First, the prophet Nathan is sent to King David to inform him that he will not build the temple of the Lord. Building the temple was King David’s idea, and he desired to honor God as sovereign Lord more than he himself felt honored to be living in a palace.  But God tells David that He will build a house for him.  An heir will come who will raise up God’s house. David’s son, Solomon, would built the temple in Jerusalem. God was also referring to the coming of Jesus from David’s line. Jesus would build the kingdom that David that he would never see nor be part of in his lifetime.  He had to take it on faith that, in spite of his best intentions, some of his dreams were not going to be realized. God had bigger dreams.

 

Secondly, we see in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that Abraham was not a man justified by his actions under the law.  Abraham is the father of many nations because he believed God's promise.  Even after years of not seeing that promise fulfilled, Abraham trusted in God’s word.  Abraham was not the father of many nations because of what he could do, but because he believed in what God could do. 

 

Finally, our Gospel brings us to Mary and Joseph seeking Jesus in Jerusalem.  One can only imagine the torment of two parents searching for a lost child for three days in a large city.  They were astonished to find him in the temple and did not understand the answer he gave them.  Yet this story is one of our great mysteries.  Not even Joseph and Mary, who had the closest relationship with Jesus, who had constant access to him, always understood what he was doing.  Saint Joseph, who was supposed to guard and protect the child Jesus, was deprived of him for three days while he was left to search and worry. 

 

In all three instances, we see the people who are closest to God, Abraham, King David, and Saint Joseph, who were asked to believe in what they could not see and to trust in God even when God said ‘no.’  No, King David did not get to build the temple.  No, Abraham did not justify himself by works.  No, Joseph did not get to be in the presence of God every day of his life.  These are strange and difficult ‘no’s to understand.  And in this era of uncertainty, it feels like God is giving us a lot of ‘no’s for things that seem to be good.  No, we cannot celebrate the Mass as a congregation?  No, we cannot socialize with each other?  No, we cannot go to work? 

 

It is easy to see these ‘no’s as though God were depriving us of something.  But again, as in all three instances with the patriarchs, God is not leaving us in deprivation and doubt.  When God tells us we cannot do something, we need to ask what he is doing instead.  When King David was not going to build the temple, it was because God was going to build up a church.  When Abraham was without a child for most of his life, it was because God was going to make him a father in faith to the world.  When Joseph and Mary had lost the child Jesus, it was because Jesus was working, simply out of their sight. 

 

Right now, we cannot see what God is doing.  We can only see the ‘no’s.  We must trust God that he is working even when we cannot see.  We must trust God that he is active as we are sidelined.  We must trust that God has a plan when we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  And we must call on the intercession of Saint Joseph to keep us strong in faith through this challenging time.

 

Litany of Saint Joseph

 

Lord, have mercy on us                            Christ, have mercy on us.

 

Lord, have mercy on us.                  

 

Jesus, hear us,                                       Jesus, graciously hear us.

 

God the Father of heaven,                      have mercy on us.

 

God the Son, Redeemer of the World,    have mercy on us.

 

God the Holy Spirit,                                 have mercy on us.

 

Holy Trinity, one God,                              have mercy on us.

 

Holy Mary,                                               pray for us.

 

St. Joseph,                                              pray for us.

 

Renowned offspring of David,                 pray for us.

 

Light of Patriarchs,                                  pray for us.

 

Spouse of the Mother of God,                 pray for us.

 

Chaste guardian of the Virgin,                 pray for us.

 

Foster father of the Son of God,              pray for us.

 

Diligent protector of Christ,                      pray for us.

 

Head of the Holy Family,                          pray for us.

 

Joseph most just,                                     pray for us.

 

Joseph most chaste,                                pray for us.

 

Joseph most prudent,                               pray for us.

 

Joseph most strong,                                 pray for us.

 

Joseph most obedient,                             pray for us.

 

Joseph most faithful,                                pray for us.

 

Mirror of patience,                                    pray for us.

 

Lover of poverty,                                       pray for us.

 

Model of artisans,                                    pray for us.

 

Glory of home life,                                   pray for us.

 

Guardian of virgins,                                 pray for us.

 

Pillar of families,                                      pray for us.

 

Solace of the wretched,                           pray for us.

 

Hope of the sick,                                      pray for us.

 

Patron of the dying,                                  pray for us.

 

Terror of demons,                                     pray for us.

 

Protector of Holy Church,                         pray for us.

 

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

 

                                                                 spare us, O Jesus.

 

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

 

                                                                graciously hear us, O Jesus.

 

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

 

                                                              have mercy on us, O Jesus.

 

He made him the lord of his household    And prince over all his possessions.

 

Let us pray:


O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

 

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

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