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)
Christians today do not mean to impose their faith on society. But they do hope to “inculturate” the faith. This strange but not unfamiliar word (to Catholics, at least) means to create an atmosphere that facilitates the practice of the faith. Faith is inculturated when there are “Good Samaritan” laws to protect from litigation someone who assists a stranger in great danger. Another example of inculturation is the dedication of a moment for prayer before a public event. Unfortunately, in many places where Christianity once was prominent inculturation has been eroded by decidedly secular tendencies. An example of counter-inculturation is the depenalization of abortion.
Inculturation is related to St. Joseph Day because Joseph assured that Jesus was raised in a religious atmosphere. Hopefully, I do not stretch the meaning of the word too far by saying that Joseph provided not just the basic material resources and a Davidic patrimony for Jesus but also a sense of what it means to be Jewish. It is possible that this might not have happened if Jesus were an orphan or grew up in the streets.
Joseph, as today’s reading from Romans suggests, is a model of faith. He believed God’s revelation that Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit when he accepted her into his home and supported her and her son Jesus. We should look to St. Joseph to intercede for us. As one who received the special favor of being named the foster-father of Jesus and of carrying out the role diligently, he will have influence on our behalf before the Almighty.