Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary – March 19

st_joseph_the_carpenteCentral Idea: Joseph, Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband, was a just man and is our Father and Lord. Doctrine: The virtue of justice. Practical Application: Living respect and responsibility.

Click here to review the readings. (Lectionary: 543)

For the Fifth Sunday of Lent click here.

Central Idea: Joseph, Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband, was a just man and is our Father and Lord.

2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

  • Matthew opens his Gospel telling us that “Jesus Christ [is] the son of David” (Mt 1:1). Matthew traces David’s line through many generations, ending with “Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Mt 1:16).
  • While Nathan’s words in the first reading apply directly to Solomon, David’s son who built the Temple of Jerusalem, they apply even more to Jesus Christ.
    • Christ built not only a physical house – his incarnate body; but also a people – all who live in him, his Church.
    • Also, Christ and God the Father are true Son and Father. Christ the King and his people shall endure forever.
  • God’s promise of salvation has been established and is fulfilled forever in Christ, the Son of David. Christ is the son of David who will live forever, and we can live forever in him.

Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22

  • When the New Testament refers to the “Law” it means two things.
  • One is the full Mosaic Law with its 613 commandments. Our salvation does not come from following these commands. This was settled by the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem when it was decided that Gentile converts did not have to live as Jews, even though the first Christians, including the Apostles, did.
  • The other “Law” is the basic moral law, the Ten Commandments as they have been taught by the Church over the centuries. We cannot be saved if we refuse to obey them. However, we are still not saved simply by observing them.
  • Salvation is a gift. God’s promise to Abraham was a gift. Abraham obtained that promise by his faith that God would do what he promised. As St. Paul tells us, Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness. Abraham was accounted righteous by obeying God even to the point of sacrificing the very son through whom he was supposed to be the father of many nations.
  • St. Joseph also showed faith in God’s promise by obeying God in taking Mary, his wife, into his home. Because his wife’s son “begets” all who have faith in the salvation that son won, St. Joseph is the father of many nations.

Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a

  • Joseph was a righteous man, meaning a just man.
  • In Genesis, when Joseph the son of Israel reveals to his brothers God’s merciful saving plan, he tells them that God “has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gn 45:8). Christian piety applies these words to St. Joseph, the foster-father of Christ: “God made you like the Father of the King and Lord over his household.” God the Father made St. Joseph a real father to the Incarnate Son. He gave St. Joseph rule over the household of the ruler of the universe. This is why we call St. Joseph our Father and Lord.

Doctrine: Justice

  • Joseph was a just man. Justice is giving what you owe another. Joseph gave God what he owed him and to everyone around him what he owed them.
  • We have looked at justice toward God under the virtue of religion with its acts of thanksgiving, reparation, adoration, and petition.
  • Justice toward man can be considered under the aspects of responsibility and respect.
    • Responsibility is the aspect of justice which emphasizes the duty of giving a person, an organization, or the law what you owe.
      • Some duties are explicit, like one’s marriage vows or a job description.
      • Others are implicit, like you don’t steal from your employer even if the job description has left that out.
      • Some responsibilities are taken on voluntarily, but once made become obligatory, like an oath of office.
      • Others are involuntary, like paying just taxes – unwelcome but still a duty.
    • Respect emphasizes the kind of deference we owe to people because of their dignity.
      • We live respect when we give to people the esteem they deserve because of their station in life.
      • However, every person owes every other person some level of respect simply because of his or her dignity as a person.
  • The human ability to act unjustly goes beyond imagination, yet people are always surprised and outraged when it happens to them.
  • We can raise justice to an even higher level through our Faith. The Christian personalism of Bl. John Paul II reasons that the most important thing to know about human beings is that they are persons—like God and the angels—not things, like animals, plants, or minerals.
    • Stated negatively, Christian personalism says that we should never treat another person as an object of use.
    • Stated positively, Christian personalism claims that the only adequate response to a person is to love him or her, that is, to wish the other person the best and to act accordingly.

Practical Application: Respect and responsibility

  • Whether seen as respect for persons or the carrying out of duties, justice is fundamental. You cannot be a decent human being let alone bear supernatural fruit without being a just person. One becomes more just by just actions. Simple to say but hard to do.
  • One good way to know yourself in regard to justice is to look at your roles in life. You are a creature and a child of God. If you are married and have children, you are a husband or wife and a father or a mother. You likely have lots of other important roles: child and sibling, friend, employer or employee, volunteer, and citizen.
  • Within each of these roles, how is your practice of respect and responsibility?
  • Discovering areas of your own injustice calls for contrition and may require Confession as well. The graces received in the Sacrament will help you tackle your area of injustice.
  • Even if you find nothing in your conduct to reprove yourself of, even if you are like the rich young man who has kept all the commandments from birth, you should still be able to find a lifetime supply of justice needing to be done based on the truth that we owe love to others. Then the question becomes, What can I do to be a real blessing to those around me?

 

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