Feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Luke 2:41-51a
"Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever."
2 Samuel 7:16
The feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, is a significant and magnificent one for the Church. While St. Joseph had a dedicated following within the Christian Community from its very beginning, his feast day was placed on the Liturgical Calendar on this day in the 10th century. In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared him patron of the Universal Church. As St. Joseph watched over Mary and Jesus as husband and father with love and care, he now continues to watch over us, the Church with that same devotion. We are definitely blest to have him as a Patron of the Universal Church.
The Church has been in the spot light these last few days, as our previous Pope resigned and then a new Pope was chosen. This time of grace has brought out an outpouring of hope and expectation for the vast majority of us who see the Church as the Body of Christ. Whether we are Catholic or not, whether we are strong, committed church goers or have ceased coming to church and whether we believe in God or not, we could not get away from the intense media coverage that the election of a new Pope generated.
While there were some news stories that were positive and favorable to the Church, the vast majority of them were unjustly critical, negative and downright false in their content and assumptions. For a number of people, the Church will never be a community of sinners who come together to become the healed Body of Christ.
St. Joseph had to wrestle with many problems and challenges as he accepted Mary into his home. He found Mary to be with Child before their marriage was formalized. He struggled to be a faithful follower of the Hebrew law and a loving, just man. He needed to obey the civil law and be registered in the census in Bethlehem of Judah while Mary his wife is about to give birth. Think of the shame that he and Mary felt when Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem at the age of 12, while the rest of the family was on their way back home. Certainly whispers of being careless parents would have circulated, and Joseph, the father would be the one ultimately responsible.
But Joseph had cultivated an ability to pay attention to the Voice of God even as he remained faithful to his Hebrew traditions. He was able to be a law abiding citizen at great personal cost, conscious of both obligations. His responsibility as a spouse and parent was based upon trust and love and not upon the expectations of others.
We pray that St. Joseph will accompany the newly elected Pope, Francis, as he begins his ministry. He too will have many challenges that will deal with our Catholic traditions and he too will struggle to keep a balance between the civil law and the dignity of each person as well as the entire People of God. Pope Francis is blest to have St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church. May we stand firm forever!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.