19Mar 19th March (Wednesday). Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of Saint Joseph

First Reading: Second Book of Samuel 7:4-6, 12-14, 16

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

2) Epistle to the Romans 4:13, 16-18, 20-22

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)-in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.

That Just and Humble Man, Joseph of Nazareth

Because of his service to Jesus and Mary during their family life in Nazareth, Saint Joseph is honoured as Protector of the Church, which continues Christ’s mission the world. There seems to be little material that we know about Joseph, apart from his name and a couple of events during the childhood of Jesus. The Gospel does not record a single word from him; we could say that his language is peaceful and compliant silence. He listened to the quiet voice by which God spoke to him in his sleep; he promptly and generous obeyed in what was asked of him; he earned the family’s living by manual labour, so that Jesus was later known as the son of the carpenter. It might well be said that Joseph lived an unknown life, the life of a simple artisan. But that humble man was so near to Jesus and Mary, intimately connected with their life and providing them with security.

The Gospel describes Joseph as a just man. He was a poor, honest, hard-working, perhaps even a shy man, but one with a deep interior life, giving him the power to put himself at the disposal of God’s plan for the childhood of Jesus. Joseph accepted the responsibility and the burden of family life, while freely renouncing the consolation of natural conjugal love because of his extraordinary vocation.

As pope Paul VI once said (1969), Saint Joseph “offered the whole of his existence in a total sacrifice to the imponderable demands raised by the extraordinary coming of the Messiah, whom he acknowledged as the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and as his own son only in a juridical and domestic way. Joseph was a fully committed man, as we might say nowadays. And what commitment! Total commitment to Mary, the elect of all the women of the earth and of history, always his virgin spouse, never his wife physically, and total commitment to Jesus, who was his offspring only by legal descent, not by the flesh. His were the burdens, risks and responsibilities of caring for the Holy Family. He carried out the service, work and sacrifice that Christians so admire in him; and that makes him such a fine patron for family life.”

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