To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Sam 7:4-5a,12-14a,16; Rm 4:13,16-18,22;Mt1:16,18-24a
to St. Joseph became popular from the 12th century onward and in the 15th
Century the feast of St. Joseph began to be celebrated on March 19 every year.
Devotion to St. Joseph as foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary grew
tremendously in the 19th Century and continues till this day.
Gospel text for the feast of today includes one verse of the genealogy, which
specifies that Joseph was the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born. The
verses that follow narrate the story of his birth. Since Mary and Joseph were
engaged, they were legally considered husband and wife. Thus, infidelity in
this case would also be considered adultery. Their union could only be
dissolved by divorce or death. Though Joseph is righteous or just, he decides
not to go by the letter of the law and publicly disgrace Mary, but he chooses a
quieter way of divorcing her. God, however, has other plans for both Joseph and
Mary and intervenes in a dream. Joseph is addressed by the angel as “Son of
David” reiterating, once again after the genealogy, the Davidic origin of
Jesus. He is asked to take Mary as his wife and also informed that is the
Spirit’s action that is responsible for her pregnancy. He is told that he is to
give the child the name “Jesus". Jesus (Iesous) is the Greek form of
"Joshua" which, whether in the long form yehosua, ("Yahweh is
salvation") or in one of the short forms, yesua, ("Yahweh saves”),
identifies the son, in the womb of Mary, as the one who brings God’s promised
eschatological salvation. The angel explains what the name means by referring
to Ps 130:8. The name “Jesus” was a popular and common name in the first
century. By the choice of such a name,
Matthew shows that the Saviour receives a common human name, a sign that unites
him with the human beings of this world rather than separating him from them.
then inserts into the text the first of ten formula or fulfillment quotations
that are found in his Gospel. This means that Matthew quotes a text from the
Old Testament to show that it was fulfilled in the life and mission of Jesus.
Here, the text is from Isa 7:14 which, in its original context, referred to the
promise that Judah would be delivered from the threat of the Syro-Ephraimitic
War before the child of a young woman, who was already pregnant, would reach
the age of moral discernment. The child would be given a symbolic name, a short
Hebrew sentence “God is with us” (Emmanu‘el) corresponding to other symbolic
names in the Isaiah story. Though this text was directed to Isaiah’s time,
Matthew understands it as a text about Jesus, and fulfilled perfectly in him,
here in his birth and naming.
birth narrative of Matthew invites us to reflect on a number of points. Of
these, two are significant. First, many
of us are often caught in the dilemma of doing the right thing which might not
always be the loving thing. If we follow
only the letter of the law, we may be doing the right thing but not the most
loving thing. However, if we focus every
time on the most loving thing, like Joseph, it is surely also the right thing.
Though Joseph could have done the right thing and shamed Mary by publicly
divorcing her, he decides to go beyond the letter of the law and do the loving
thing, which in his case was also the right thing.
the story also shows us who our God is.
Our God is God with us. Our God is one who always takes the initiative,
who always invites, and who always wants all of humanity to draw closer to him
and to each other. This God does not come in power, might, and glory, but as a
helpless child. As a child, God is vulnerable. He is fully human and in his
humanity, is subject to all the limitations that humanity imposes on us. Yet, he
will do even that, if only humans respond to the unconditional love that he