Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and who was also the Foster-father of the Saviour of the world and Son of God, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. That is why St. Joseph was accorded with such a great honour by the Church, as one of the important member of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and as the one who had taken care of the Lord in His early age, and was a great father figure to Him and a devoted husband to his wife, Mary, the Mother of God. That was why, over a century and half ago, St. Joseph was declared the Protector of the Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX, as the patron and intercessor for the whole Universal Church, the one we can look up for guidance and inspiration in the way how he himself had lived his life with great faith and dedication to God and also to his family.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel in which God spoke to the prophet Nathan the words that he was to deliver to King David of Israel, detailing what God had intended for him and his family. King David was one of the most righteous and greatest among the kings of Israel, and he was full of love for the Lord and was also a great shepherd, guide and leader for the people entrusted to his care by God, just the way how he cared for his sheep when he was still a shepherd in his youth. God therefore reassured David that his rule and reign over Israel, and that of his descendants, the reign of the House of David will last forever, and the descendants of David will always sit on the Throne of Israel. God had blessed David and his house, his descendants, and as long as they were faithful to the Lord, the kingdom of the people of God flourished and prospered.
However, it was not always that the kings, the descendants of David had been faithful to God. Many of the kings beginning with Solomon himself, the son and successor of David, and the kings of Judah were unfaithful to God and were wicked in their way of life and actions. Thus, the fortunes of the kingdom of God’s people waned and eventually, as many of them remained unfaithful to God and committed great sins against God, the kingdom was destroyed and crushed, and the people of God scattered to many places. Yet, God still provided for those whom He loved, including even those who have sinned against Him. He gathered back the Israelites and preserved the descendants of David, through whom eventually St. Joseph was born, as the heir of David. It was through St. Joseph that the Lord Jesus became known as the ‘Son of David’ or the ‘Heir of David’. Despite them not biologically related, but the legal marriage of St. Joseph to Mary, the Lord’s Mother, made Jesus to be the legal heir of David.
Then we heard in our second reading today from St. Paul and his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome, of the Lord’s promises made to Abraham and his descendants, of the Covenant that He has established with all of them. The Lord called Abraham from the land of his ancestors and for his faithfulness, righteousness and commitment to Him, He established a Covenant with him and his descendants, promising that he would become the father of many nations, and everything that God had promised did come true in the end. This was just like what He has promised to David, and God showed His promises coming true in all occasions, of which Christ is the culmination and fulfilment of all those promises. How is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because through Christ, Who has come into this world as the Son of God born in the flesh and adopting our human nature, all of us have been made children of God by adoption as well, and every one of us through this spiritual link to Abraham, have made the latter our father in faith as well.
Not only that, but God also fulfilled the promises He made to David, for Jesus Christ came to be the One to sit on the Throne of David for eternity, to be the one true and eternal King over all of God’s people, and hence, the House of David does indeed last forever as God had intended it. Yet, it was their righteousness, those of Abraham and David, as well as St. Joseph, that brought about this justification and grace in the first place. God saw what was inside man’s heart, even to the deepest parts within us that we may not even be aware of. He saw in all of these faithful predecessors of ours, a strong and dedicated love for Him, and the love for righteousness and justice in all things, and the desire to follow Him wholeheartedly, as they had done in their whole lives. St. Joseph in particular was known to be an upright figure, righteous and hardworking, dedicated and committed to God much in the same way as his ancestors, Abraham and David had lived their lives.
In our Gospel passages today, the two Gospel choices we have both highlighted the actions of St. Joseph in the brief mention of his story in the Gospel narratives, as much of the Gospels are focused on the later ministry of the Lord Jesus rather than on His early life. From the Gospel of St. Matthew we heard how St. Joseph took care of the Holy Family, of the Lord and Mary, His mother, when danger was about to come for the Holy Child. Back then, King Herod the Great wanted to kill the Child Jesus, having seen Him as a rival and danger to his own hold on the throne of Judea and his other lands, which was then tenuous at best. King Herod did not even hesitate to order the slaughter of all the innocent children in Bethlehem aged two and below, in order to eradicate this potential threat to him and his rule. St. Joseph was therefore warned by God to bring the Child Jesus and His mother to Egypt, in order to hide there for a while until those who sought His death had passed on.
St. Joseph obeyed this dutifully and carried on his role as the Protector and the father figure of the Holy Family with genuine dedication and commitment. While details are very scant of what happened in those years, St. Joseph must have taken good care of both the Lord and Mary, his wife, and cared for them, bringing them back to Nazareth after everything had stabilised as the Lord commanded it. Then in the other Gospel passage today from the Gospel of St. Luke, we heard of the account of the moment when the Lord Jesus stayed behind in the Temple of Jerusalem at the age of twelve. St. Joseph was there together with Mary, His mother, as they searched for Him and found Him in the Temple. It was mentioned how the Lord obeyed His parents and went back with them to Nazareth, and how He grew in stature and wisdom in the world, in the eyes of God and man alike.
This must have been contributed by St. Joseph, which in the face of the lack of details of what exactly happened, but he must have brought up the Lord Jesus well, and taught Him what he knew of the Law and commandments of God, guiding and teaching Him in the same path of righteousness and justice that St. Joseph himself had allowed all his life. The lack of mention of St. Joseph in the later parts of the Gospels during the Lord’s ministry and according to the Apostolic traditions suggest that St. Joseph had passed away before the Lord Jesus embarked on His ministry, but his role in bringing up, caring and taking care of his foster Son, is something that all of us as Christians should very well take heed on, and remember as we ourselves carry on living our lives in this world. All of us are called and reminded particularly during this season of Lent, to be faithful and committed to God, and to be righteous and just in our way of life, just as St. Joseph and our other holy predecessors had done.
Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect how we can be better disciples and followers of the Lord from now on, by following the inspirations and examples from our holy predecessors, like that of Abraham and King David, but especially in particular from that of St. Joseph, so that we may also be truly worthy of being called God’s children, His holy people. Let us all make good use of the time and opportunities provided to us, particularly during this season of Lent, so that we may redirect our focus and attention in this life to the path that God has shown and taught us to follow. Let us all ask our patron and protector, the great St. Joseph, our great role model and guide to intercede for us and to help us so that we will always strive to be righteous, good and faithful in our way of life, and remain firm in our commitment to the Lord, the way that St. Joseph himself had done in his life. May God bless us all and be with us in our journey of faith throughout life. Amen.