Thursday, 19 March 2020 : 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 the Church celebrates together the great Solemnity of the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Foster-Father of Our Lord Jesus, that is St. Joseph. On this day we rejoice in the memory of this great saint who had been made the Patron and Protector of the Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX in the mid-nineteenth century, invoking his intercession and protection for the Church just as he protected the Lord and His mother Mary as the Holy Family.

St. Joseph was a humble and simple carpenter in the small town of Nazareth, who married the young virgin Mary, and he was remembered as a righteous and God-fearing man, obedient to the Law and the commandments, and was upright in all of his dealings and actions. He acted with faith and justice, caring for others as shown in how he tried to preserve Mary’s life and dignity when he wanted to divorce her in secret because she was found to be with a Child before their marriage.

St. Joseph cared for her because had he let it be known to others of Mary’s condition, she would have been stoned to death by the prevailing Jewish laws and customs as she would have been considered as an adulterer and wicked woman. Her whole family would have also been shamed and disgraced. This was not what St. Joseph would have wanted as he certainly knew that Mary could not have cheated on him by her character, which shows us just how righteous and caring he was, not being selfish or egoistic, but putting the needs and concerns of others before that of his.

And it was St. Joseph who cared for Mary and the Lord Jesus, as they travelled while Jesus was still in His mother’s womb on the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a difficult journey for a heavily pregnant woman, and in securing an accommodation for them at the time when all the inns and accommodations in Bethlehem were full. St. Joseph also protected Mary and the Baby Jesus when they fled to Egypt away from the hands of king Herod who wanted to kill the Child.

It was likely also St. Joseph, as the Foster-Father of the Lord, who guided the Lord Jesus during His early years, caring for Him and teaching Him the necessary skills and ways to survive and do well in the world. It was even possible that the Lord Jesus was also taught on carpentry and other skills of the trade from St. Joseph, among others, which was why He indeed grew up so well in wisdom in the eyes of men, not only because He is indeed the Divine Son of God, but also likely because of the patience and the perseverance of St. Joseph together with Mary, His Mother.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this great Solemnity of St. Joseph, all of us are called to look upon the great examples shown by this faithful, righteous and wonderful saint, whose life was truly an inspiration for all of us as Christians, in how he had lived his life, in the way he has acted towards others, in his commitment to the mission which God had entrusted to him as the head, caretaker and protector of the Holy Family, and as a role model in fatherhood and family for many of our own Christian families.

Today, we all live in a world where the virtues upheld by St. Joseph were no longer honoured and these virtues were often forgotten and ignored, as many were focused on attaining selfish desires and aims, the pursuits of personal satisfaction and glory, the emphasis on personal pride and ambition, that we enjoy and be happy even at the cost of hurting others. And we have also seen how many of us Christians are no longer obedient to God and not following His laws and commandments, and we also see divisions in the families and breaking down in meaningful and genuine Christian relationships.

This is why it is all the more important that today we direct our attention to look upon St. Joseph and invoke him as the Patron and Protector of the Church, that we may look upon his examples of faith and devotion, his upright life and virtues so that we may once again be faithful to God and commit ourselves to Him anew, by following the example and inspirations from St. Joseph, and see how we can be true Christians through our actions and sincerity in following God from now on.

As we celebrate this Solemnity of St. Joseph today, let us all spend some time to reflect on our lives especially in the midst of this season of Lent. As we still continue our busy lives and schedules, our daily activities and all, let us all remind ourselves to be faithful and to be good in our actions and deeds, so that inspired by the good examples of St. Joseph, we may indeed become more like him and be more righteous and devoted to God. In the end, we will then be more worthy of God and His salvation, through our changed life.

Let us all turn away from sin, and embrace God’s love more willingly, and strive to be obedient to the Law of God, to be more generous in love, to be more selfless and less selfish, to be less attached to the many tempting desires of this life. Let us all share our love and blessings with one another, be more welcoming to those who are unloved and rejected, be more forgiving on those who have hurt and caused us pain and troubles. Let us all be committed in our faith like that of St. Joseph, our great role model.

Let us ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, that he may pray for us and help to lead us in our way, so that we may be strengthened by God in our faith and in being more courageous to live our lives with greater fidelity, righteousness and love for God from now on. O St. Joseph, Holy Patron and Protector of the Church, our great role model and intercessor, pray for us all sinners, and show us the way forward in faith towards your Foster-Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 : 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.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 : 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.”