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Archive for March 19th, 2016

Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 7:4-16
Romans 4:13-18
Matthew 2:13-152:19-23

Intro:  St. Joseph has been honored throughout the Christian centuries for his faithful devotion in helping Mary raise her Son. Matthew’s Gospel relates that Joseph was a just man, who followed the angel’s instructions and took the already-pregnant Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24). In the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). This suggests that Joseph had building skills with which he supported his family. Joseph was an important figure in the early life of Jesus, safely escorting Mary and the child to Egypt (Matthew 2:14) and then settling them back in Nazareth once it was safe to do so (Matthew 2:22). The final mention of Joseph is at the time the twelve-year-old Jesus visits the temple in Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41-51). Joseph, the guardian of our Lord, has long been associated with caring parenthood as well as with skilled craftsmanship.

Reflection:  The narrative of the birth of Jesus features two earthly fathers:  Joseph, the step-father of Jesus and King Herod the Great.  The Lord told Joseph to flee because  King Herod the Great, outsmarted by the magi, set out to kill all Bethlehem’s male children under the age of two in order to kill a threat to his throne. Herod had 17 children and he had many of them executed, along with his wife.  After his death, the kingdom was divided into four regions and four of his sons became rulers of those tetrarchs. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded.  Not one thing that Joseph ever spoke is recorded in the Scripture, yet he was silently obedient to the Lord as Jesus’ stepfather and guardian. When he found out that his betrothed Mary was pregnant, without him, he decided to quietly divorce her to save her shame. He fled to Egypt with his family, at great risk, trouble and cost. He took care of  his family. He brought them to worship in Jerusalem and at the synagogue in Nazareth every Saturday. He did what a father is to do.  His stepson Jesus was known as, “the son of the carpenter”, thereby showing how much Jesus reflected the labor of his step-father.   He had other children, one of whom, James would become a pillar of the Church in Jerusalem.  James’ Epistle is part of the canon of the New Testament.  

Herod the Great and Joseph is certainly a contrast in two diametrically opposed types of fathers.  The difference?  One obeyed his own lusts and flesh, thus the devil, and corrupted his family.  Herod was merely a biological father. The other obeyed in true faith the Lord and His Word and guided his family by truly being a father according to the 4th Commandment. Though not Jesus’ biological father, but as many stepfathers, more than a father than Herod!  Herod, in our day, would be the stuff of the media, the internet, fame and power.  Joseph probably would be considered a narrow-minded and dogmatic redneck:   but whom would you want as your father? Herod the Great did not point his life toward the Lord, the Almighty Father.  Joseph did and still does.  I think March 19th should be  the Church’s Fathers’ Day.

From a Sermon preached by Pr. and Prof. John T. Pless, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN, 19 March, 2,013, on the Gospel for this day:

Joseph does seem to have a whole lot of attention in the story. The annunciation, the angelic announcement made to him is less dramatic than the one made to Mary. Mary is given to respond in a song the church still sings, the Magnificat. Joseph is silent, but he is also faithful and obedient in his vocation as husband and father. He does what the angel tells him to do. He takes Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt, doing what good husbands and fathers do for their families—providing for them, caring for them, and guarding them. And when the danger of Herod is past, he listens to the angel and takes Mary and Jesus back home to Nazareth in Galilee and lives out his days as husband and father. Joseph does not have a major part to play in the New Testament, and he only gets a minor feast day in the liturgical calendar overshadowed by Mary’s big day—the Annunciation on March 25and even more so by Good Friday and Easter now so close on the horizon. But it is a good thing to remember Joseph, Guardian of our Lord. He was not the biological father of Jesus; Jesus did not have his DNA, but he was father to Jesus, and he cared for his Son, guarding and keeping him with an eye on him who was Father to them both, your Father in Heaven. From this Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, all fatherhood receives its name. The little baby cared for by Joseph from Bethlehem, in Egypt, and in Nazareth, is the one who makes of us all sons of God through faith in his atoning sacrifice, the fruits of which we eat and drink today at this altar in the new testament of his body and blood. Amen.

Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary. Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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