Tag Archives: Joseph

St. Joseph

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (13...

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). He wasn’t rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

As celebrate St. Joseph with feasting let also remember his commitment to our Savior.

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View of Bethlehem, 1898

View of Bethlehem, 1898 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Emperor’s registration has been a great boon for business, but a mass of confusion, crowding, and short tempers here in Bethlehem.  Since our humble village is the birthplace of the great King David those of his lineage have been required to come here to be counted.  Our sleepy little country town has been inundated by hordes of irritable citizens inconvenienced by the journey.  I warned my wife weeks ago that the inn would be filled to overflowing for these days. Together we made as many advance preparations as possible – more lamp oil, food, linens.  Still the rush has been more than we bargained for, and we’ve met some real characters.

A few nights ago, a most peculiar thing happened.  An exhausted young man came in just before sunset.  He had just arrived from Nazareth with his very pregnant wife and was desperate for a room.  I told him that I regretfully had nothing to offer him – there was not a corner to be had.  Something about his manner really captured my attention, though.  He wasn’t angry or annoyed as most were, but he just thanked me and turned to her with such concern and care.  For some reason it was terribly important that I help them.  It occurred to me that the cave in back which serves as a stable was empty.  When offered such humble accommodations they gratefully and readily accepted without a word of complaint.

Sometime during the night, I was awakened by a small group of shepherds that claimed to be looking for a baby.  I was bewildered, thinking perhaps they had had too much wine, but they hurriedly explained their reason for coming to the inn.  They related that angels had appeared to them in their field and told them of a Special Child they were to come and worship for He was the promised Messiah.  The angel instructed them to look for a baby in a manger.  I must say, I felt the strangest sensation and thought of the young couple in the barn.

We went back to see and before us was the most beautiful sight.  The young woman had given birth to a baby boy.  Her husband, I think he said he was a carpenter named Joseph, had cleared out the animals’ manger and put in fresh hay, and there the baby lay all wrapped in warm cloths.  The shepherds fell to their knees.

Although, I was confused and somewhat skeptical, I can truly say this was no ordinary child.  In that smelly old barn, there was a holy presence.  I have been drawn back in there many times in the last few days.  Something lingers – something sacred.

Look for opportunities to give compassion. Wherever Christ is, there is a holy presence.  Something lingers – something sacred.

Reflection – When has your spirit sensed a sacred presence?

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Pondering – Over and Over — December 3

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430.

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is old.  She sits lovingly wrapped in a shawl near a warm fire in John’s house, she is remembering – pondering in her heart…

It was just an ordinary day in Nazareth when I was visited by Gabriel, an angel sent from the very presence of God.  He told me I had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.  I was troubled, afraid, confused, accepting, blessed.  I have pondered that angelic conversation over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I went to visit Elizabeth in the hill country.  Her child leaped for joy in her womb when I entered the house, and Elizabeth called me “the Mother of my Lord.”  I have pondered that visit over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The angel’s assurance to Joseph, the trip to Bethlehem for Caesar’s census, the birth in the stable, the manger that Joseph filled with fresh hay.  I have pondered those days over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The story told by the shepherds that night…how an angel proclaimed the Savior’s birth and a huge choir of angels sang their beautiful song of glory and peace in their field.  I have pondered the story of the shepherds over and over in my heart a thousand times….

We presented Jesus in the Temple and an old, devout man named Simeon recognized Him as the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike.  He

looked me in the eye and spoke of a sword piercing my soul.  I have pondered those chilling words over and over in my heart a thousand times…

We went to Jerusalem for Passover.  He was twelve, and we realized on our way home that he was not with our group.  After three frantic days, Joseph and I found him in the Temple astonishing the scholars with his knowledge and understanding.  He told us he was about his Father’s business.  I have pondered his words over and over in my heart a thousand times….

When he turned water into wine, when he raised Lazarus from the dead, when he healed the crippled and the blind, when he walked on the sea and calmed the storm.  The parables, the sermons, his teachings.  The emotions on his face that only I could read, the times he wept, the times he challenged the Pharisees.  I have pondered each event over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The arrest in the Garden, the trials, the flogging.  The crucifixion!  Simeon’s prophecy came back to me, and I wondered how I could still be living with that sword of pain piercing my soul.  The tomb, the waiting, the crushing grief.  Then the resurrection!  Joy beyond words healed that wound to my soul!  The ascension, as my Son went back to his Father – my Son who was before me.  All of this I have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I was chosen to be the God-bearer.  I was called to obedience, to be faithful in mystery, to endure great sorrow, and to know the deepest joy ever experienced by a human being.  All these things I, Mary of Nazareth, have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

Reflection – As you remember these years of journey with Christ, what do you ponder over and over in your heart?

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