FRIDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH, SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Reading 1: 2Sam 7:4-5,12-14,16 The reading takes us back to David, the greatest ancestor of Jesus. The prophet Nathan assured David that Yahweh God would raise up an heir for him and the kingdom would be firm.
Reading 2: Rom 4:13,16-18,22 Paul speaks of the justice that comes from faith. He speaks not of David, but of Abraham, the ancient patriarch, father of all those who would yearn for home and believe in the word of the Lord’s covenant.
Gospel: Mt 1:16,18-21,24 or Lk 2:41-51 The gospel tells us that Jacob was Joseph’s father and that Joseph is husband to Mary, of whom Jesus, who is called Messiah, was born.
ST JOSEPH, SILENT KNIGHT OF GOD
Today, on the solemnity of St Joseph, the readings narrate to us, how God’s plan is fulfilled and how God uses various people in the fulfilment of his plans. In the first reading we see how God promises David through the prophet Nathan an everlasting kingdom ruled by his descendant, one who will reign forever. The gospel narrates how this promise of God is fulfilled beyond human comprehension in Christ, who came to save humanity from the slavery of sin. In the second reading, we find Paul telling the Christian community at Rome how those who put their trust in God can never be disappointed, by narrating the life of faith of Abraham. Like Abraham, St Joseph too is a man who put his complete trust in God.
Matthew and Luke, are two evangelists who speak rather more of Saint Joseph among the evangelists, tell us very little about him. But even their little inputs on St Joseph reveal to us the whole personality of this person chosen as the foster father of the Lord. Furthermore, there is not a single word that is attributed to Joseph in the Gospels. But even in his silence, the message he gives us is profound. With the limited narrative that we have, St Joseph is pictured as righteous, humble, obedient, simple, innocent, prudent and just. Therefore, God used him in the fulfilment of his plans.
From the narratives of the gospels, we know that Joseph was a descendent of David, and thus was of royal lineage. Yet, there was nothing royal in how he lived his life; his was a life lived in simplicity. He was an ordinary person, an ordinary carpenter leading a completely ordinary life. He accomplished nothing extraordinary in terms of the lofty worldly standards. He was someone insignificant, not influential in any circle, not prominent in anyway. But even in this ordinary life of a common man, he became a part of God’s plan of salvation. This does not mean that his life was devoid of difficulties and challenges. He had to constantly face the troubles of life just like us. Yet, he encountered them with unwavering faith in the word of God and complete trust in his merciful love.
St Joseph might have imagined for himself a quiet and ordinary married life with Mary at the time of their betrothal. But God calls them to set aside all their plans and aspirations and to embrace His plans for them. They do it without hesitation, without complain, placing their trust in God. We too have our own plans for our lives. But these plans and projects can be upset at times by something unforeseen – an ailment, failure, disappointment, death of a dear one and so on. In such situations, how do we react? Do we become bitter, discouraged, rebellious? Or like Joseph, we turn to faith, choosing to believe in God’s providence and accepting his will in complete surrender, trusting that he will bring out something beautiful from this ordeal?
On December 08, 2020, on the occasion of 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as the patron of Catholic Church, Pope Francis announced a special jubilee year in his honour. And in his apostolic letter to declare the same, Patris Corde, the Holy Father pictures St Joseph as a tender, loving, obedient, accepting father. This comes at a moment when there is a great crisis caused by the pandemic. At such a time, St Joseph becomes an example of an unnoticed presence touching innumerable lives. St Joseph played a hidden, but crucial and incomparable role in the salvation history. He serves today as a wonderful role model to our contemporary world weighed down by anxiety, fear, selfishness, confusion and despair.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 89:2-5,27,29 His descendants shall continue forever.
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