Spouse of the Blessed Virgin and Patron of the Universal Church
ST. JOSEPH was by birth of the royal family of David, but was living in humble obscurity as a carpenter when God raised him to the highest sanctity, and fitted him to be the spouse of His Virgin Mother, and foster-father and guardian of the Incarnate Word. Joseph, says the Holy Scripture, was a just man; he was innocent and pure, as became the husband of Mary; he was gentle and tender, as one worthy to be named the father of Jesus; he was prudent and a lover of silence, as became the master of the holy house; above all, he was faithful and obedient to divine calls. His conversation was with angels rather than with men. When he learned that Mary bore within her womb the Lord of heaven, he feared to take her as his wife; but an angel bade him fear not, and all doubts vanished. When Herod sought the life of the divine Infant, an angel told Joseph in a dream to fly with the Child and His Mother into Egypt. Joseph at once arose and obeyed. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed Joseph to many inconveniences and sufferings in so long a journey with a little babe and a tender virgin, the greater part of the way being through deserts and among strangers; yet he alleges no excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return. St. Chrysostom observes that God treats thus all His servants, sending them frequent trials to clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing seasons of consolation. "Joseph," says he, "is anxious on seeing the Virgin with child; an angel removes that fear. He rejoices at the Child's birth, but a great fear succeeds: the furious king seeks to destroy the Child, and the whole city is in an uproar to take away His life. This is followed by another joy, the adoration of the Magi; a new sorrow then arises: he is ordered to fly into a foreign unknown country, without help or acquaintance." It is the opinion of the Fathers that upon their entering Egypt, at the presence of the child Jesus, all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of their gods trembled and in many places fell to the ground. The Fathers also attribute to this holy visit the spiritual benediction poured on that country, which made it for many ages most fruitful in Saints. After the death of King Herod, of which St. Joseph was informed in another vision, God ordered him to return with the Child and His Mother into the land of Israel, which our Saint readily obeyed. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus had succeeded Herod in that part of the country, and apprehensive that he might be infected with his father's vices, he feared on that account to settle there, as he would otherwise probably have done for the education of the Child; and therefore, being directed by God in another vision, he retired into the dominions of Herod Antipas, in Galilee, to his former habitation in Nazareth. St. Joseph, being a strict observer of the Mosaic law, in conformity to its direction annually repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Our Saviour, now in the twelfth year of His age, accompanied His parents thither. Having performed the usual ceremonies of the feast, they were returning with many of their neighbors and acquaintances towards Galilee; and never doubting but that Jesus was with some of the company, they travelled on for a whole day's journey before they discovered that He was not with them. But when night came on and they could hear no tidings of Him among their kindred and acquaintance, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost speed to Jerusalem. After an anxious search of three days they found Him in the Temple, discoursing with the learned doctors of the law, and asking them such questions as raised the admiration of all that heard Him, and made them astonished at the ripeness of His understanding; nor were His parents less surprises on this occasion. When His Mother told Him with what grief and earnestness they had sought Him, and asked, "Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? behold Thy Father and I sought Thee in great affliction of mind," she received for answer, "How is it that you sought Me? did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But though thus staying in the Temple unknown to His parents, in all other things He was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, and there living in all dutiful subjection to them. As no further mention is made of St. Joseph, he must have died before the marriage of Cana and the beginning of our divine Saviour's ministry. We cannot doubt that he had the happiness of Jesus and Mary attending at his death, praying by him, assisting and comforting him in his last moments; whence he is particularly invoked for the great grace of a happy death and the spiritual presence of Jesus in that hour.
Reflection. —St. Joseph, the shadow of the Eternal Father upon earth, the protector of Jesus in His home at Nazareth, and a lover of all children for the sake of the Holy Child, should be the chosen guardian and pattern of every true Christian family.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ps. 91, 13, 14
The just man shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus; planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. (P. T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. 91, 2. It is good to give praise to the Lord; and to sing to Thy name, O Most Hight. Glory be …
May we be assisted, we beg Thee, O Lord, by the merits of the spouse of Thy most holy Mother, that what our own power obtaineth not may be granted us by his intercession. Who livest.
Epistle • Ecclus. 45, 1-6
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.
[The praises of Moses, of Aaron, and of Phinees.]
He was beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction. He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies, and with his words he made prodigies to cease. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and shewed him his glory. He sanctified him in his faith, and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. For he heard him, and his voice, and brought him into a cloud. And he gave him commandments before his face, and a law of life and instruction.
Gradual • Ps. 20, 4, 5
O Lord, Thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. He asked life of Thee and Thou hast given him length of days for ever and aver.
Tract. Ps. 111, 1, 3
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
Gospel • Matt. 1, 18-21
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[The genealogy of Christ: he is conceived and born of a virgin.]
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins.
Offertory • Ps. 88, 25
My truth and My mercy are with him: and in My name his horn shall be exalted. (P. T. Alleluia.)
We render unto Thee, O Lord, the debt of our service, and humbly entreat Thee to guard Thy gifts within us, through the intercession of blessed Joseph, the spouse of the mother of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, in honor of whose feast we offer unto Thee this sacrifice of praise. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 1, 20
Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. (P. T. Alleluia.)
Be with us, we beg, O merciful God, and being propitiated by the intercession of blessed Joseph, Thy confessor, which Thou hast surrounded us. Through our Lord.