The Greater Joseph

Matthew 1:16,18-21,24
2 Sm 7:4-5,12-14,16 / Ps 89 / Rom 4:13,16-18,22

Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her quietly. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.
(Matthew 1:19-20)

St. Joseph, humble spouse of Mary,
Blessed model in our hurts and pain,
Inspire us never to grow weary
Serving God for our eternal gain.

Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ. This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her quietly. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name Him Jesus, because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’. When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home; he had not had intercourse with her when she gave birth to a son; and he named Him Jesus. (Matthew 1:16,18-21,24)

Reflection

Joseph, the husband of Mary, and foster father of Jesus, traced his lineage all the way to Abraham. Although he was just a poor unlettered carpenter, he was a man of quiet dignity and strength of character. When he learned that his bethrothed was pregnant, he decided to divorce her secretly, so as not to expose her to shame. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him, “It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” He told him that this happened in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 7:14).

One of the greatest patriarchs in the Old Testament, and the closest precursor of the Messiah was Joseph, one of the two sons of Jacob by Rachel. He was known as ‘Joseph, the Dreamer,’ the earliest mystic who became the savior of Israel when he was sold as a slave to Egypt. Because of his dreams, he saved nations from the seven years of famine that followed the seven years of bountiful harvests. The Pharaoh of Egypt put him in charge of his whole kingdom, and Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt next only to the Pharaoh at the young age of thirty.

Joseph, the husband of Mary, like his Old Testament counterpart, was also begot by a man named Jacob. He was also enlightened through a dream. But unlike Joseph of Egypt, he never saved any nation in his lifetime. In fact, he never spoke or wrote a single word in the Bible. He was perhaps the meekest and humblest of all the saints. But God saw fit that this lowly carpenter would be the protector and guardian of the Redeemer of the world. Next to the Blessed Mother, he is the greatest of all saints.

St. Joseph’s feast day falls right after my birthday. He is my patron saint and model. I believe I have become a good husband and father largely because of the influence of St. Joseph, although my wife insists it was her devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary that kept me firm in my fidelity to our marriage vows. Fittingly, St. Joseph is known as the patron saint of laborers and fathers. Most of us, laborers and fathers, should look up to the righteousness of St. Joseph, who is the model of all men who wish to remain sons of God.

St. Joseph, beloved foster father of our Savior, pray for us, that we may always be faithful in our commitment to serve your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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