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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on March 19, 2009

Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 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.

Reflection on the gospel: The synoptic gospels make clear that throughout the early church people knew that Mary was the name of Jesus’ mother and Joseph was the name of Mary’s husband. They also make clear that Joseph practiced carpentry, though the carpentry he practiced was a little more specialized than our word for it suggests. He worked on door jams; we don’t have a word for this kind of specialized woodcraft, but we do know that it was a labor that received a subsistence wage.

Many of the stories that come to us about Joseph result from the apocryphal gospels written in the first several centuries after the Lord’s birth. These writings are highly suspicious and fanciful works, so it it hard to know whether they contain any traditions that had survived for centuries, or whether they were the products of the veritable Graham Greenes of ancient times. One second century story is the gospel of James which suggests that Joseph was an older widower who brought to his relationship with Mary children from his first marriage.

The picture that emerges from the gospels was that Joseph was an honorable man, that he was not Jesus’ natural father but that he did everything he could to protect and nurture the child his wife bore, and that he placed his trust that God was at work in the child’s life. What he understood of the boy’s mission is impossible to know, but we can be sure that the man Jesus became was in good measure a reflection of the basic decency he experienced in Joseph, a man whom Jesus called, “Father.”

Saint of the day: St. Joseph was a descendant of the house of David. A carpenter, he was the husband of Mary and the foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. A visionary who was visited by angels, he was noted for his willingness to immediately get up and do what God told him.

He is the patron against doubt; against hesitation; of the Americas; Austria; Belgium; Bohemia; bursars; cabinetmakers; Canada; Carinthia; carpenters; China; Church; confectioners; craftsmen; the Croatian people; dying people; emigrants; engineers; expectant mothers; families; fathers; Florence, Italy; happy death; holy death; house hunters; immigrants; interior souls; Korea; laborers; married people; Mexico; New France; New World; Oblates of Saint Joseph; people in doubt; people who fight Communism; Peru; pioneers; pregnant women; protection of the Church; social justice; Styria, Austria; travelers; Turin, Italy; Tyrol, Austria; unborn children; Universal Church; Viet Nam; wheelwrights; workers; and working people.

Spiritual reading: There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand. This general rule is especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord, and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Remember us, Saint Joseph, and plead for us to your foster child. Ask your most holy bride, the Virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen. (Sermon by Bernardine of Siena)

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