Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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)

According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia why St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19 in unknown.  The custom of designating a day for St. Joseph goes back to early medieval times.  A Benedictine monastery in France lists March 19 as the day on which he died but evidently gives no explanation.  It is interesting, however, that the March date coincides with the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  In the space of a week the two great annunciation stories of the gospel are thus proclaimed.

Christians do not regularly refer to Matthew’s account of the revelation to Joseph as an annunciation.  However, it resembles very much the story of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will be the mother of the savior. Joseph also is visited by an angel although in his case in a dream.  As to Mary, the angel tells Joseph not to be afraid.  In both cases reference is made to the Holy Spirit conceiving the child, whose name is Jesus.  Most of all, like Mary, Joseph is seen as submissive in faith to the will of God.

On these two solemnities we are not to fast.  How could we recalling the good news of the coming of our Savior?  The celebrations testify to Catholicism being a religion of joy.  Even during the season of penitence the Church bids us to rejoice.  God is coming to save us.