Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lectionary: 543

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

This solemn feast of Saint Joseph gets bounced around a lot during the Season of Lent. It should be celebrated six days ahead of the Marian solemnity of the Annunciation. She must be at least betrothed before she conceives the Messiah. But this year, March 19 falls on Sunday and we cannot overlook a Sunday of Lent, so it's put off until Monday. Sometimes, when Easter falls very early in March, Saint Joseph must wait until after the Octave of Easter, the ninth day after Easter.

But isn't that what husbands and fathers do? Certainly, I don't recall my Dad being upset about being overlooked or taken for granted. A United States Marine, he had served in the South Pacific during World War II. Surviving that, he regarded every day as a gift.

We know little of the husband of Mary. He is mysteriously silent through all his adventures. When the Angel appeared in a dream and told him, "Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home." he did so. When the Angel reappeared and told him to take the child and his mother into Egypt he got up that very night and hurried away, abandoning his reputation, career and family to eke out a living in a foreign land. We hear nothing of their stay in Egypt. Finally, two more dreams direct them to Nazareth, rather than to Joseph's house in his native Bethlehem. Saint Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph sought the child in Jerusalem and found him in the temple. She had something to say to the impulsive twelve-year-old but Joseph was characteristically silent.

Saint Joseph's silence speaks powerfully to us today. Everyone has something to say about everything. Or, as they, "There's a lot more said than done."

Joseph certainly watched the political situation. He knew there was trouble in Jerusalem after hearing the magi's story. He knew Archelaus was no better than his father King Herod and they could not return to Bethlehem. Saint Matthew doesn't say that Joseph despised Herod or his son; there is no suggestion of his joining or sympathizing with the Zealots who would plot against their rulers. Rather, he took his family and fled, as millions of people are fleeing from violence, hunger, disease and homelessness today.

Saint Joseph is surely the patron of refugees in Europe and the so-called "illegal aliens" in North America. He would understand why many are unwilling to share their security with his people. They are frightened and have no faith in God. And he would continue to search for a safe, quiet place for his faithful family.

Pray for them and for those who stand in their way.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.