19Mar 19 March, 2020. St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1st Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-6, 12-14, 16

From David’s offspring will come the universal King

That very 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.'”

Responsorial: Psalm 89

Response: The son of David will live for ever

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;

I will make your faithfulness known

through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,

that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity

and establish your throne for all generations.

He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,

my God, the Rock my Saviour.’
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,

the most exalted of the kings of the earth.

2nd Readings: Romans 4:13, 16-18, 20-22

The faith of Abraham as source of abundant spiritual life

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

Joseph is inspired to take Mary as his wife

… and 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.


May your words, O Lord be on my lips, and in my heart. May they guide me on life’s journey and keep me near to you.

Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church

For his loving service to Jesus and Mary at their home in Nazareth, Saint Joseph was named Patron of the Universal Church, the worldwide family that continues Christ’s mission in the world. He is also honoured as patron of families, fathers, expectant mothers, explorers, pilgrims, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.

Very little is known about him, apart from his name and a couple of reported events from the early life of Jesus. The Gospels do not record a single one of Joseph’s words. While he surely could speak Aramaic, we could say that his main language was fidelity and service. On several occasions he listened to the guiding voice spoken to him in his sleep, and then did exactly what was asked of him; first, to take Mary home as his wife; later, to bring Jesus and Mary into Egypt, for safety.

This quiet man earned his living by manual labour, so that Jesus was later known as the son of the carpenter. Joseph lived a hidden life of duty, the life of a tradesman, in no way a celebrity. But that humble man was so near to Jesus and Mary that he is now among the highest of the saints.

The Gospel calls Joseph a just man. He was honest and reliable, perhaps even a shy man, but deeply spiritual, able to put himself at God’s disposal for the rearing of Jesus. He accepted the responsibilities and burdens of family life, while renouncing the right of conjugal union because of his extraordinary vocation. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

As pope Paul VI described him over 50 years ago, Saint Joseph “sacrificed the whole of his existence to the 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. “He bore the burdens and responsibilities of caring for the Holy Family. He carried out the service that Christians admire in him, which makes him such a patron for family life.”

Many artists have portrayed Joseph as an old man, more of an age to be Mary’s father than her husband. One major exception is a painting by El Greco, who shows Joseph as a working carpenter, strong and protective, with the boy Jesus clinging to his legs. This is closer to the figure of Saint Joseph in the gospels than the alternative tradition, which has him as an elderly widower. (Protevangelium).

But while he shared with Mary in rearing their boy, he must have struggled at times, like Mary herself, to understand Jesus. After searching anxiously for three days, they found him in the Jerusalem temple, only to hear Jesus say that was busy with his Father’s affairs. By now Joseph sensed that there was someone else whom Jesus called “Father,” and to whom his first allegiance was due. At this stage he discovered that he must let Jesus go to whatever higher purpose the Lord God planned for him. As such, Saint Joseph serves as an inspirational patron for all parents who rear their offspring and then have to set them free to live their own lives.

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