Saturday, December 17, 2016

Good St. Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family...

• A sign shall be given by the Lord… a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel… meaning God is with us.
• In the course of Our Lord’s birth, we tend to focus either on the child Jesus, and for good reason… or on the Blessed Virgin Mary and poor St. Joseph seems to be left in the backdrop, hidden from the spotlight…. But we must realize that he also chooses to do this just as Our Blessed Mother who says that we must do whatever her son tells us. She always points to Him as well.
• In today’s Gospel we hear of the virgin birth. When Mary was betrothed to St. Joseph but before they lived together, she was found with child. Scripture then goes on to say that because Joseph was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
• What does this mean?
• According to the Jewish custom at the time, any woman found to be with child outside of marriage could be stoned to death. St. Joseph is not only trying to protect the dignity of Mary and the child because of his love for her but there is something more going on.
• St. Joseph knew Mary well. She was holy and innocent and had consecrated her virginity to God for the rest of her life. His love for her was so deep that he was even willing to marry her knowing that he would never have any children with her.
• So, what was he thinking when he found her to be with child yet, knowing he was not the natural father? We have a glimpse of what he might have been thinking by these words, “because he was a righteous man, he was willing to divorce her quietly.” Besides wanting to preserve the dignity of Mary, he also knew her to be holy. She would not lie… so knowing she was with child that there was a great mystery involved. Where did this child come from? It was as if, in humility, he thought he was not supposed to have a part of this plan to be with this holy woman who was already with child. So, he was stepping away.
• It was only when the angel revealed to him that this child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he was still supposed to keep himself betrothed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that St. Joseph accepted the responsibility of taking responsibility of this child as if it were his own.
• Herein lies the fatherhood of St. Joseph… Although he was not be the father of this child through the normal course of childbearing, he was to be known as the father of this child through the marriage he had with Mary and St. Joseph took responsibility over her and the child as a true father and spouse.
• He accepted God’s plan and was to play and crucial role in protecting and leading the Holy Family. Just imagine if God the Father had chosen you to be the custodian of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on top of this, God asked you to protect and lead His only Son.
• There is a beautiful painting in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston called the “Rest on the Flight Into i Egypt” by Luc Olivier Merson… Our Lady with her child resting in the arms of a sphinx in the desert with St. Joseph lying on the ground next to a campfire and the donkey… Giving her son and the Blessed Virgin the safer place to rest while he kept watch over them… this is what this passage in Scripture is saying… He wanted to protect her and her child from all harm.
• St. Joseph’s Feast Day is March 19th which is believed to be the day of his death. May all fathers learn from St. Joseph what it is to be a father… to protect and safeguard their children and spouse and lead them safely into God’s Kingdom

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