Intention: For all who live in fear of violence, exploitation or abandonment, that people’s commitment to peace and justice will grow and help to end their suffering.
Today’s Gospel | 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.
A Lenten Reflection
Among the many saints of the Church, one stands out as perhaps the most admired and yet the least understood. St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, is in some ways an enigma to us. His appearances in the Gospels are few and brief. He says almost nothing, a silent and stalwart presence in the middle of history’s most miraculous moments. And still, we gravitate to him as a model and a patron. What are we to make of this quiet hero?
Today’s narrative of Joseph’s visitation by an angel reveals to us things that will help us to understand. One is that Joseph, like Mary, was chosen. It was God’s intention that he play the role that he did. Another is that he was a man of true justice: compassionate, honest, fair, wise. He acted only out of integrity and in fidelity to the will of God. And he was strong, strong enough to shoulder burdens that he did not create and did not really understand, all out of obedience to a greater good. Of course we admire and revere him. How could we not? But are we prepared to be like him?
In today’s Gospel, we are shown through Joseph the virtues that Lent calls us to embrace: faith and prayerfulness, zeal for doing right even if it requires great sacrifice, and openness to the ways of God. In the great humility and love with which Joseph served God and the mother and son who had been entrusted to his care, we are called to consider lifting ourselves to a greater kind of humanity and a higher sense of self. This is the challenge of Joseph’s story and the gift of his example.
Eternal Father, you are always with us, calling us to faithfulness in following your ways. Forgive us for those times when we have made ourselves blind to your presence and deaf to your voice. In this time of Lent, help us to recognize you in the gifts that surround us in the people we know and in the opportunities that we receive each day to celebrate life and make the world better. Strengthen us to endure the trials that doing your will may bring and to stay fixed on building your Kingdom. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.