Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed are those who dwell in your house, O Lord; they never cease to praise you.

Central Idea: Joseph, Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband, was a just man. Doctrine: The virtue of justice. Practical Application: Living the virtues of respect and responsibility.

Click here to review Lectionary 543.

Central Idea: Joseph, Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband, was a just man

Reading 1 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16

The LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David,
‘When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.’”

Responsorial Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 & 29

R. The son of David will live for ever.

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness,
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

“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 shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”

  • 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.
  • At the same time, we can attribute the Lord’s words to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”

Reading 2 Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.

  • What do we contribute to our own salvation? 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.

Verse before the Gospel Ps 84:5

Blessed are those who dwell in your house, O Lord;
they never cease to praise you.

  • Why do we venerate St. Joseph with the honor called dulia?
  • I think this verse before the Gospel gives us the answer.
    • Who was the lord of the house of the Holy Family? It was St. Joseph.
    • So the other members of that house, Mary and Jesus, never ceased to praise him.
    • Since we are adopted members of the Holy Family, Joseph is our father too, and we never cease to praise him. Especially today.

Gospel Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Or

Lk 2:41-51a

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.

  • 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.”
  • While Jesus has a more primordial Father, God the Father, whose house on earth was the Temple of Jerusalem, God the Father made St. Joseph a real father to the Incarnate Son.
    • As Mary said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
    • Jesus is “son” of “us,” that is, Mary and Joseph: “Your father and I.”
  • God the Son, Jesus Christ, is lord of the universe. Yet God the Father gave St. Joseph rule over the household of the ruler of the universe. Jesus “was obedient to them.” 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 to God what he owed Him and to everyone around him what he owed them.
  • Justice toward God is called 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 an injustice happens to them.
  • We can raise justice to an even higher level through our faith. The Christian personalism of St. 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: Living the virtues of 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 acts. This is 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.
  • Do you find nothing in your conduct to reprove yourself? Are you are like the rich young man who has kept all the commandments from birth? Nevertheless, you should still be able to find a lifetime supply of justice needing to be done based on the idea that we owe love to others.
    • Then the question is, What can I do to be a real blessing to those around me?
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