1st Reading: 2 Samuel7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
The LORD spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.’”
2nd Reading: Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Brothers and sisters; it was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us, as it is written, I have made you father of many nations. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be. That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.
Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
JOSEPH, THE MODEL OF A CARING FATHER: Today is a special day when we celebrate the feast of St Joseph. From the start he revealed obedience to God when he accepted to take on Mary. Ensuring the realization of God’s promise given to David, Joseph takes baby Jesus and Mary to refuge for the child was being sought by King Herod. He risks his life for the sake of God. This is strong collaboration with God’s Will. It is extreme response to God’s call. Today, as we celebrate this gift of fatherhood, fathers are asked two key questions: do you listen to God’s will and plan for your family? Do you do according to God’s Will in line with your family? Let us pray for fathers today so that they may do God’s Will. Let us ask God to be with all fathers and give them the resources necessary that they may take care of their families according to God’s will.
Prayer: Help all fathers today so that they may follow your will as St Joseph did.
JOSEPH, THE JUST MAN: The liturgy of Lent gets a break with the Solemnity of St Joseph. In today’s gospel narrative, there is an intriguing line, “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” Joseph was a righteous man, or as other translations have it, “just man.” What is righteousness? What is justice? If Joseph were to be just in the way of following the laws of his religion, he should have complained about the situation to his rabbi, who would conduct independent enquiries, and if Mary was found to be pregnant before marriage she would be stoned to death. This is legalistic justice. Joseph is already following the mind of Christ, where, justice is giving someone more than their due; it is doing what is good for them (Ref. Mt 20:1-16 – the story of the Workers in the Vineyard).
ACCEPTING THE WILL OF GOD: St. Joseph might well be called the patron saint of forcibly changed plans. Our typical African people hardly talk with certainty of their future plans probably out of fear of the unknown. God knows often enough our carefully laid plans are wiped out by forces beyond our control, and new situations are created that we never expected. We plan and then illness or job loss or natural disaster or something similar blocks the fulfillment of what we planned. Joseph is an example of a person who willingly accepts God`s plans even when they inconvenience our ideas. There are many times things we plan don`t end up as per our wishes. There is something to admire in St. Joseph, namely, the ability to accept surprises. He seems to have enjoyed a natural ability to adopt easily to new situations. Faith is actually this ability to take on a new culture, to live in a new setup just like Abraham. God is full of surprises and often leads us into surprising situations. Blessed is he who, when God springs a surprise on him, doesn`t panic but moves smoothly along with the His word.