Intention: For God’s wise and guiding grace in the lives of all who are being affected by COVID-19: those afflicted with the disease, family members or friends of those afflicted, caretakers of those afflicted, and persons who are entrusted with decisions of public health and safety.
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 may be the least understood. Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, is in many 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 and our reverence for him?
Today’s narrative of Joseph’s visitation by an angel reveals to us some things that might help us to know him better. One is that he, like Mary, was chosen. It was God’s intention that he play the role in the world that he did. Another is that he was a righteous man: compassionate, honest, fair, wise. He was a model spouse and father. And he was strong, shouldering burdens that had been placed upon him and that he did not really understand, all out of deference to a greater good. Of course, we admire him. Who wouldn’t? 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 when 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 find a call to consider lifting ourselves to a higher kind of humanity. This is the challenge of Joseph’s story and the gift of his example. The spirit of Lent calls us to trust in God’s power to bring wonder out of the ordinary, and to use our everyday faithfulness and labors to make sure that in our world there is always a space for the holy.
Eternal Father, the light of your Son is meant to help us make our way without becoming lost in darkness. Yet, there are times when we are living in darkness and do not even realize it. In this time of Lent, help us to awaken ourselves to the reality of our sinfulness and our need to follow you into the light. May we come to know and serve you better, and may we always walk in the truth of your ways. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.