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

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.

Reflection:  I think  March 19th, Joseph, Guardian of Jesus should be observed by the Church as Fathers’ Day, as the following reflection by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon in Touchstone magazine makes clear and as does the issue of Touchstone on St. Joseph also makes clear.  (BTW:  Touchstone is an excellent Christian and orthodox magazine).

There is something strongly impressive in the Bible’s final remark on the life of St. Joseph: “Then [Jesus] went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. . . . And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:51–52). The Son of Godwas raised, that is to say, as any little boy should be raised, growing day by day in the practical and moral skills of life, the formation of character, even as he grew in height and build. While God’s Son assumed humanity in his mother’s womb, it was Joseph who taught him what it means to be a man. Thus, Joseph was to leave the forming mark (charakterin Greek) of his own manhood on the God-Man. Jesus, in his hometown, was known as “the carpenter’s son” (ho tou tektonos huios—Matt. 13:55).

Few if any writers have shown as much exegetical insight into St. Joseph, I think, as Bernard of Clairvaux, who preached a homily on this saint back in the twelfth century. Bernard spoke of Joseph as “the man of virtue,” who “deserved to be so honored by God that he was called, and was believed to be, the father of God” (meruit honorari a Deo ut pater Dei et dictus et creditus sit).

Detecting the subtle suggestions dropped in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Bernard compared St. Joseph to his Old Testament counterpart, Joseph the Patriarch. Both men, Bernard noted, were men of chastity, unwilling to touch women who did not belong to them. Each man, likewise, was driven into Egypt by the ill will (invidia) of others, in the first case by the older sons of Jacob, and in the second by King Herod.

Both men were given divine messages in their dreams. The older Joseph “provided grain, not only for himself, but for all the people,” while the later Joseph “received for safekeeping the Living Bread from heaven, both for himself and for the whole world.”

In the biblical genealogies, Jesus’ lineage is traced back to David, not through his mother, but through Joseph, to whom Jesus had no biological relationship (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23–31). Thus, Jesus inherited the messianic title “Son of David,” not through Mary, but through the man who served him, literally,in loco parentis (in place of parents).

Bernard was impressed by Joseph’s Davidic lineage:

Truly of the house of David, this man [vir iste] Joseph truly descended from the royal stem, noble in lineage, more noble in mind. . . . Indeed was he ason of David, not only in flesh, but also in faith, in holiness, in devotion. The Lord found him, as it were, another David, a man after his own heart, to whom he could safely commit the most secret and most sacred purpose [arcanum] of his heart—to whom, as to another David, he manifested the deep and concealed things of his wisdom, and whom he would not permit to be ignorant of the Mystery which none of the princes of this world have known. To him it was given to see what many kings and prophets had longed to see, but had not seen, and to hear, but had not heard. And he was given, not only to see and to hear, but also to carry, to lead, to embrace, to kiss, to nurture, and to guard. (Super Missus EstHomiliae2.16)

Every vocation is unique, surely, in the sense that the Good Shepherd calls each of his sheep by its own proper name. Still, there was something more particularly unique about the vocation of St. Joseph.

Just how does a man learn the proper form and method for being the foster-father of God’s Son and the spouse of that divine Son’s virgin mother? One suspects that there were no manuals on the subject. Joseph was obliged simply to follow God’s call wherever it led. Like Abraham, “he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). And if Abraham, in thus following God by faith, is called “our father” (Rom. 4:12), there must be some sense in which St. Joseph serves as our foster-father.

With so distinctive and demanding a vocation, we might excuse Joseph if, on occasion, he sometimes felt anxious and insecure. The available evidence, however, indicates that this was not the case. Joseph appears four times in the Gospel of Matthew, and every single time he is sound asleep. Whatever troubles Joseph endured, they did not includeinsomnia. Joseph’s vocation was not simply difficult; it was impossible. Consequently, he realized that all of it, in the end, depended on God, not himself.

(Taken from Christ in His Saints)

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