Day 27: Solemnity of St. Joseph

JOSEPH OF NAZARETH

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Second Book of Samuel 7: 4-5,12-14,16

1.2.  Second Reading: The Letter of St Paul to the Romans 4: 13,16-18,22

1.3.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 1: 16,18-21,24

1.4.  Simple Comment: Samuel reports how King David’s good intention to build God a worthy house is reciprocated by God’s never-to-be-outdone generosity: Yahweh builds David’s house for all ages; better still, God belongs to David’s household! This promise is fulfilled in Jesus His only Son by whose incarnation God chooses to belong to David’s kin through his foster father Joseph, named by the angel as son of David.

 

  1. Monument: Joseph in Nazareth

2.1.  Nazareth has the Church of St Joseph, a stone’s throw from the house of Mary where today stands the magnificent Basilica of the Annunciation. It was built in 1914 and traced a triapsidal medieval church of which only a baptistery remains. Beneath this basin used for baptism, there is a cave which tradition hails as the workshop of Joseph.

2.2.  Had we followed the usual readings of the Monday of the third week of Lent, we would have encountered Luke’s narrative of the rejection of Jesus by his own townsfolk of Nazareth. This periscope has a parallel in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 13:55 where Jesus is known as the carpenter’s son. Actually the Greek text mentions of a worker’s son and today many scholars seem to identify Joseph less of a carpenter as a house builder. It seems that when he decided to reside in Nazareth after returning from Egypt, one reason was because there was construction work at Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee, and through which opportunity he can support Mary and Jesus.

2.3.  Another detail we can say about Joseph, who has scant mention in the Gospels of Matthew and of Luke, is that he has a younger brother by the name of Cleopas, whose wife Mary was present at Calvary in the moment of Jesus’ passion and death.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  God is mighty and powerful yet it is essential to His saving plan to involve human persons as mediators and executors. What He needs is their faith and trust in Him together with their generosity of putting whatever means, big or little, at His disposal. This is very true for Joseph, Mary’s husband and Jesus’ guardian.

3.2.  Everyone has his/her dream about what is best for his/her future, that is, what should make one’s life meaningful and fulfilling. Joseph had his in being betrothed to Mary but all this changed when God came into the picture – using the very love of Joseph for his wife but in an entirely different dedication and expression. Joseph, in placing his own dreams and proposals at God’s disposal, is transformed to someone he never imagined himself to be. The good news is that his involvement becomes saving not just for him but for all humanity!

3.3.  It is interesting that the Gospels do not mention a single word that is attributed to Joseph. He is more characterized as receiving the message of God in a dream, and more importantly, as the person who did as the angel directed him. It is not far to apply to him the word of Jesus: Blessed are they who hear the word of God and do it.

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: With the Spanish missionaries came many traditions that have become central to the unique expression of Filipino Christianity. One major factor is the great devotion to St Joseph – Jose rings so very often as a given baptismal name, as the major patron of a parish, or as the adopted name of the town or barrio! St Joseph comes very close to the Filipino psyche for his characteristics: simplicity, industry, humility, courage, and faith in God. These form part of the native core: kababaang loob, kagandahang loob, and lakas loob.