19 Mar – Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Joseph is a descendant of the house of David. A layman and a carpenter, he was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. He was a visionary who was visited by angels, and is noted for his willingness to immediately get up and do what God told him.
Prayer to St. Joseph
Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your Son,
you rescued Him from the danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.
Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory. Amen.
- Patron Saint Index
2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16
The word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: “When your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’
The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.
Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’
Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”
What is it really to be a husband and father in this day and age? In the olden days, the perception of fathers was always of one who was the breadwinner and very much an alpha male figure that shouldn’t be messed with. Many people have described their relationship with this kind of father as distant, as he was usually a disciplinarian without much of a soft side.
This view of the father figure often led to a distorted image of God the Father. But our God revealed himself differently, more like the father that Jesus describes in the story of the prodigal son that we are so familiar with, from Luke 15. And we see this too in the man of Joseph, the spouse of Mary.
St Joseph knew that if he divorced Mary, she would be stoned to death, so he decided to do it quietly; already showing signs that he was a man who did not think of himself, not of his own shame, not of his own wellbeing, nor of his own future, but of the wellbeing of Mary and her future. And we know that thereafter, he took care of his family and even passed on his trade skills to his son, Jesus.
We know very little about St Joseph from scripture and a little bit more from sacred tradition. From there we derive that he was, a husband and father par excellence. Apart from wanting to spare Mary from being stoned, he also, dropped everything he had and fled his home when the angel told him that his family’s life was in danger.
There are entire religious orders built on his patronage, like the Oblates of St Joseph and Sisters of St Joseph. We even have 2 churches here in Singapore named after him. His name, in light of how he was the protector and provider of the holy family, is an often innovated name. In the divine praises and Eucharistic prayer he even gets a mention.
Especially in a time where many men are losing their identity, St Joseph stands as a model that we can all follow, to realise what it means to be a husband and father; even if we do not have children.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)
Prayer: St Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and patron of the Universal Church. Be in our domestic churches so we may benefit from your intercession and help all the men in our lives to model themselves after you.
Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord, for the gift of my own father and father figures in my life. In them, I know there is this true man that the spirit of God has guided and moulded, as we all need good father figures in our lives. Help us too, to forgive them if they have fallen short and let them not give up.