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.”

Sunday, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday in the Octave of Christmas, all of us celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Bethlehem, the family of the Lord and Saviour of the world, as the model for all of our Christian families all over the world. It was through this loving family that Our Lord was born into the world, and this feast today is an important reminder for all of us to keep our families in good condition.

The Holy Family principally is about Christ of course, the One Who is the reason for us to rejoice at Christmas and the One Who made this Family to be different and distinct apart from any other families of the world, for He is the very Son of God, Who came into the world incarnate in the flesh through His mother Mary, a pivotal moment in the salvation of mankind, for through Him God willed the salvation of all His people.

And then as mentioned, the Family has a mother in Mary, the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and because Jesus is both Man as He is also God, Mary is the Mother of God. She herself is also an integral part of the Holy Family, as no family can exist without a mother figure. It was through her that the Messiah entered this world, dwelling in her womb, the very first Tabernacle, for nine months long.

Finally, we have St. Joseph, as the father and head of the Holy Family, just as the other families are headed by the fathers of the respective families. Although St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus, but as the legally and lawfully married husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, St. Joseph was the legal father and foster-father of the Lord, and therefore also an integral part of the Holy Family of Bethlehem and Nazareth.

It was this Holy Family that travelled all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem over two millennia ago, at the time appointed by the Lord for the great census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus, that the Messiah could be born as prophesied and intended, in the city of Bethlehem, the city of King David. And St. Joseph helped to bring the heavily pregnant Mary through the difficult and long journey, as a caring, loving and dutiful husband.

He was the one to guide Mary through Bethlehem on that night when there was no room at all in all the inns and lodging houses of the town, and it was only after a great difficulty that he managed to get a place, unsuitable for any human beings, but was where the Lord and King of all, was to be born, in a small and dirty stable just outside the town of Bethlehem. It was there that night that the Lord was born.

The Holy Family did not have it easy after that, as when the Three Magi came to pay homage and worship the Lord, they warned them to run away from the place and from the domains of king Herod who wanted to kill the Child, seeing Him as a great Rival to his own power, authority and kingdom. St. Joseph had to protect both the Lord Jesus, his foster-Son and Mary, his wife, and brought them to Egypt to protect them from king Herod and his designs.

When king Herod was finally dead a short while later, St. Joseph led both the Lord and His mother Mary back to the land of Israel, back to their home in Nazareth, where St. Joseph reassumed his role and work as the village carpenter, while Mary raised Jesus together with him, as the Lord grew in age and wisdom, in stature and might among the people. And we heard of the Holy Family one last time when the Lord was twelve years old.

At that time, the Holy Family went to the city of Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover, and as the Lord went to the Temple of Jerusalem, He stayed there for a few days unknown to St. Joseph and Mary, who then went to search for Him. The Lord was speaking and discussing with the elders in Jerusalem, and He wanted to stay there, at the House of His true heavenly Father, but He obeyed His foster-father, St. Joseph and His mother, Mary and returned with them to Nazareth.

We see in the Holy Family as the archetype and ideal for the families of all Christians, as the perfect example for each and every one of us to follow. We see in the Holy Family the example of the fatherhood, motherhood and what being children in our holy Christian families ought to be. And it is a truly important reminder for us that our families must be based on the loving relationship and the faith found in the Holy Family.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Feast of the Holy Family therefore, all of us are reminded that the institution of the family is one that is very important to our lives, to our faith and to our journey as Christians in this world, one that we cannot and should not take lightly especially as we should be aware of just how the institution of the family has been constantly under attack from those who seek to destroy us and the Church.

For the Christian families are the foundations of the Church, the pillars that kept the faith alive in countless generations of Christians throughout the history of mankind. Christian family, like the Holy Family it is modelled after, is the first Church for all Christians, where the young and the children first learn about the faith from their parents, and where in turn the parents pass down what they know about the faith to their children.

It is within our families that we live and journey through our Christian lives and faith together. We persevere through the challenges of this world together, as each one of the families, be it as a father, as a mother, or as a child, as a grandmother, grandfather, grandchild, or more. And we are then ultimately connected one another, in extended families and by the common adoption as sons and daughters of God, as brothers and sisters to each other in the large family of the Universal Church.

The devil and all of his allies seeking our downfall and destruction know very well that the family is the bedrock of our faith, and the protection against the corruption and temptations that often turn many people away from God. That is why he directed and concerted all the attacks against the families of the faithful, tempting all to break the faithful unions apart, making people to believe less in their matrimonial bonds and in their families.

That is why there are so much disobedience within the families, there are so many infidelities and unfaithfulness, people cheating against their spouses and betraying their own family members. That is why jealousy, hatred, anger and many other negativities often reign in our families, among our relationships and friendships, in our communities and societies. All these are caused by the devil and all of his machinations to destroy us from within.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where all of us are called to look at the Holy Family of Our Lord Jesus, His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph for inspiration and strength, that we may model our own families in the mould of the Holy Family. We are called to follow the example of Christ’s obedience to His parents on earth, the love He had for them, and the love which Mary and St. Joseph had for their Son, and for each other.

Are we able to imitate and show this same love within our own families? Are we able to grow in faith and journey together with our most loved ones, beginning from our families? Remember the saying, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the families that pray together, eat together and do things together with faith, will stay together. And also, that when two or three or more are gathered in the Lord’s Name, He will be with us.

That is why, let us all be inspired by the Holy Family and strive to do our best to model ourselves and our own families after their good examples. Let us all rejoice together in this glorious and joyful season of Christmas as faithful and devout Christian families, all seeking not the selfish love of oneself, and resisting the temptations of pleasures of the flesh and all that often led to the destruction of families and relationships, instead, loving one another sincerely and with all of our hearts, from now on.

May God bless us all and our families, that truly from now on, all of us will enthrone Him at the centre and heart of our Christian families and communities, uniting ourselves to Him and to the large family of all the faithful children of God, the one family of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.

Sunday, 29 December 2019 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 2 : 13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

After Herod’s death, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the Child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel.

But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled : He shall be called a Nazorean.