Monday, 19 March 2018 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together as the whole Church, the great Solemnity of the Protector of the Church, Foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, Mother of God and Our Lord. The Church places St. Joseph in a very honourable place because of his closeness to Our Lord Jesus, as the foster father who protected and guided Him in His early years of earthly life, and also because of his righteousness and faith in God.

St. Joseph was the crucial link between God and His long awaited promise to Adam, Abraham, David and all those to whom He has made His Covenants with. First of all, St. Joseph was the legal father of Our Lord even though he was not His biological father, as the Lord was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, His mother and not conceived by earthly means unlike that of any other men. Through that legal fatherhood, Jesus Our Lord and Saviour became a descendant of Adam, Abraham, David and all mentioned earlier.

In our first reading today we heard about the exchange between the prophet Nathan and king David, who spoke about the building of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. If we read through the book of the prophet Samuel and the book of Kings we will realise that David had really wanted to build a House for God, and made lots of preparation for it. But God told him that it was not him who would build a House for him, but his son.

In this, we can see two interpretations of what God told to David through His prophet Nathan. The first one is the literal one, meaning that the son of David, king Solomon would be the one to build a magnificent Temple worthy of God, and which was indeed henceforth remembered after him as Solomon’s Temple. But there is a second, parallel meaning that if we read the entirety of the Old and the New Testament, then we will understand it better.

What is this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the Lord Jesus, Who was born as the legal Son of St. Joseph, who himself was the legal heir and descendant of David. As such, that was why Our Lord Jesus was also known as the Son of David. When a blind man heard that Jesus was approaching in one of the Gospel accounts, he shouted, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ highlighting this relationship that Our Lord has with His ancestor David, the king of Israel.

And if Solomon built the physical Temple of Jerusalem, the first Temple built in the honour of God and known by many as Solomon’s Temple, then the Lord Jesus came into this world as the Temple itself, for He is indeed Man and God, having human and divine natures united in His person. He spoke of this when He told the chief priests and the Pharisees that He would tear down the Temple and in three days, He would rebuild it again, which alluded to His crucifixion, death and resurrection from the dead.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, through St. Joseph, we see there is a clear link between what God had promised to His people in the ages past, and what He has fulfilled through Jesus Christ His Son, Whom He had sent into the world for our salvation, by His death and resurrection from the dead. Through His suffering and death, He fulfilled the promises He made to us from long ago, that He would save us from our sins, and we will enjoy forever the grace of His blessings and love.

And how did St. Joseph fit in all these? St. Joseph, just as Mary is, is a role model for all of us Christians, through his exemplary lifestyle and commitment to the mission he was entrusted with by God. St. Joseph was an upright man and a steadfast believer in God, and he acted with justice and with faith, even treating Mary fairly when she apparently became pregnant before she was married to him. He did not want to disgrace her by divorcing her publicly.

But the Lord revealed to him that Mary’s pregnancy was part of God’s greater plan, the long awaited salvation of all mankind, that St. Joseph would play a big part in. St. Joseph trusted in God and followed whatever he was told to do, protecting Mary and the baby Jesus during the earliest days of His infancy, and bringing them both to Egypt when king Herod wanted to have the Baby Jesus killed.

Even though it was not mentioned explicitly in the Gospels, St. Joseph must have had a significant role in the upbringing of the young Jesus, as He grew up to be a fine and healthy adulthood, by teaching Him many crafts of the world. It was indeed possible that Jesus was a carpenter like His foster father, St. Joseph, or at least have learnt the craftsmanship of a carpenter from him.

All of these tell us that as Christians we should devote ourselves and live our lives much as St. Joseph has lived his. We should be upright in our dealings and in our actions, and put God first and foremost in our minds and in our hearts. Unfortunately many of us Christians do not live by this standard, and instead, we take part in selfish attitudes such as gossiping, plotting against one another and being conceited, above all other things. It is even often that we Christians have done all sorts of actions unbecoming of us as those who profess to be faithful to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and on all that we have done in our lives. Have we been faithful to the Lord in our actions and deeds? If we have not done so, then perhaps it is indeed time for us to change ourselves, by turning ourselves from our sins and wicked actions, and by spending more time with God, in prayer and in loving devotion.

And we are also called to do what we can to help our brothers and sisters, by being charitable and caring for those who are suffering and those who have no one to love them and to care for them. This is our calling as Christians, following in the footsteps of God’s saints, particularly that of St. Joseph. After all, God has loved us first, and He loved us so much that He sent us Jesus, His own beloved Son. Why can’t we love Him in the same manner, and why can’t we love one another in the same way?

Let us ask St. Joseph for his intercession, that he will always intercede and pray for us, and for the sake of God’s Church. Just as he had been entrusted with the care of the Lord Jesus in His youth and the Holy Family, let us ask him for his protection and prayers, that each and every one of us Christians may be able to draw ever closer to God, and therefore find our way to His salvation. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 19 March 2018 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 16, 18-21, 24a

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah.

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 41-51a

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then 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 this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them.

Monday, 19 March 2018 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18, 22

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just and a friend of God through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way and all is given by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but also for all the others who have believed.

Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you father of many nations. He is our father in the eyes of Him Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed. Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation, thus becoming father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

This was taken into account for him to attain righteousness.

Monday, 19 March 2018 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

“He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’ I will keep My covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure.

Monday, 19 March 2018 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 7 : 4-5a, 12-14a, 16

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for My Name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son.”

“Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”