Monday, March 19, 2012

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(II Samuel 7:4-5a.12-14a.16; Romans 4:13.16-18.22; Matthew 1:16.18-21.24a)

Boo Radley is a minor hero of the epic novel of the American South, To Kill a Mockingbird. He is not seen much and says little if anything. However, when the children of the protagonist (a virtuous lawyer whose character is unforgettably played by Gregory Peck in the movie version) are threatened by a disgruntled drunkard, Radley intercedes to save their lives. Although it may seem a bit irreverent, we might picture St. Joseph in a similar role.

Interestingly, St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, does not say a word in any of the four gospels and is only mentioned in three. Yet he is universally known for being both just and loving. His righteousness is displayed by his not wanting to embarrass Mary when he discovers that she is with child. Commentators note that this forbearance would have cost him the dowry which he might have reclaimed. He exhibits care for Mary and Jesus as he races them to Egypt when Herod threatens to kill all male children of the area. The evangelist Luke further records how Mary commends Joseph’s loving concern as she mentions that he, as much as she, was anxiously looking for Jesus when the lad is found with the teachers in the Temple.

St. Joseph serves as a model for men, especially fathers, and also for men and women introverts who express love more with righteous presence and courageous action rather than with the often ambiguous phenomenon of words.