Friday of the Third Week of Advent
(Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-25)
Last week Pope Francis surprised many in the Church. Apparently out of the blue he initiated a Jubilee Year in honor of St. Joseph. The pope’s devotion to St. Joseph was first signaled when his name was added to the Eucharistic prayers. But the Jubilee Year status of St. Joseph indicates more than a pope’s piety. It underlines the role of the common person in the Church. Today’s gospel presents Joseph as an ordinary man steeped in holiness.
The passage recounts how Joseph received an “annunciation” message. He was betrothed to Mary when he was informed that she was with child. He demonstrated sanctity by not exposing her to the law. It is speculated that by not informing authorities of Mary’s state, Joseph forfeited the dowry given to Mary. In any case, out of kindness, he wanted to spare Mary the embarrassment of an investigation. The angel’s intervention called Joseph to an even greater sacrifice. He accepted Mary into his home with her child, the Son of God.
The Jubilee Year is replete with indulgences for those who complete one of several acts of piety. Francis wants people who have not been able to leave home to benefit in it. All of us can grow spiritually by praying to St. Joseph this year. Like him, most of us are common people called to make sacrifices. We may have a family to raise, or school children to teach, or elderly parents to take care of. A powerful intercessor as well, St. Joseph will win for us all the help we need.