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)
The Church celebrates St. Joseph’s day as a solemnity. This means it is given the highest reverence. At mass both the Gloria and the Creed are recited or sung. On solemnities in Lent Catholics are not supposed to fast but to rejoice as if it were a Sunday. This change should not be taken as a corruption of the season but as a reminder that the gospel, which has its challenges, is fundamentally good news.
Not much is said about St. Joseph in the four gospels. Because Jesus is called the carpenter’s son, it is presumed that Joseph was a carpenter or craftsman. Very importantly, Joseph gives Jesus his royal heritage as both Matthew and Luke cite him as a direct descendant of King David. Joseph stands out as a just or righteous man. In today’s gospel, even before his famous dream, he decides not to cause Mary any trouble by a public divorce. More self-sacrificingly, he acts on the word of God given to him by the angel when he brings the mother of God’s son into his home. And when he is told in other dreams to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt out of harm’s way and to move his family to Nazareth, he obeys willingly.
We should see Joseph not just as a righteous builder but the builder of righteousness. He collaborated with Mary to raise Jesus as a person of fidelity to God’s word. No doubt he imparted to Jesus a sense of nobility; that is, Jesus had an obligation to serve the good of all. As we are Jesus’ adopted sisters and brothers like Jesus was Joseph’s son, we can look to him for guidance. We should find in St. Joseph a model of virtue to emulate and an intercessor to beseech.