Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 (alternate reading: Matthew 20:17-28)
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife
Old Testament Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14-16
4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 "Go and tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'"
Meditation: Are you prepared to obey the Lord in everything? Faith in God's word and obedience to his commands go hand in hand. Joseph, like Mary, is a model of faith and justice. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a "just man". John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), a gifted preacher and bishop of Constantinople, comments on the great virtue we see in Joseph which qualified him to be a worthy guardian and foster father for the child Jesus:
"The concept of 'just' here signifies the man who possesses all the virtues. By 'justice' one at times understands only one virtue in particular, as in the phrase: the one who is not avaricious (greedy) is just. But 'justice' also refers to virtue in general. And it is in this sense, above all, that scripture uses the word 'justice'. For example, it refers to: a just man and true (cf. Job 1:1), or the two were just (cf. Luke 1:6). Joseph, then, being just, that is to say good and charitable..."Joseph's faith was put to the test when he discovered that his espoused wife Mary was pregnant. Joseph, being a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass, punish, or expose Mary to harm. To all outward appearances she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah, who is both the only begotten Son of God and son of Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph was a worthy successor to the great patriarchs of the old covenant - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joseph followed the call of God through the mysterious circumstances that surrounded the coming of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who fulfilled all the promises made to Abraham and his offspring. God entrusted this silent, humble man with the unique privilege of raising, protecting, teaching, and training Jesus as a growing child. Joseph accepted his role of fatherly care with faith, trust, and obedience to the will of God. He is a model for all who are entrusted with the care, instruction, and protection of the young. Joseph is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption.
Are you ready to put your trust in the Lord to give you his help and guidance in fulfilling your responsibilities? God gives strength and guidance to those who seek his help, especially when we face trials, doubts, fears, perplexing circumstances, and what seems like insurmountable problems and challenges in our personal lives. God our heavenly Father has not left us alone, but has given us his only begotten Son Jesus as our savior, teacher, lord, and healer. Where do you need God's help and guidance? Ask the Lord to increase your faith and trust in his promises and in his guiding hand in your life.
"Lord Jesus, you came to free us from the power of sin, fear, and death, and to heal and restore us to wholeness of life. May I always trust in your saving help, guidance, wisdom, and plan for my life".
2 For youry steadfast love was established for ever, your faithfulness
is firm as the heavens.
3 You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4 `I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'" [Selah]
5 Let the heavens praise youry wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.
A Daily Quote for March 19: The character of Joseph, from a homily by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153
"Joseph's character and qualities can be deduced from the fact that God honored him with the title of father, and, although his doing so was a mere matter of convenience, this was what he was known as and believed to be. Joseph's own name, which as you know means "increase", supplies further indications. Call to mind the great patriarch of old who was sold into Egypt, and you will realize that it was not only his name that our saint received but also his chastity, innocence, and grace. His brothers' envy had caused the earlier Joseph to be sold and taken to Egypt, thus symbolizing the selling of Christ: the later Joseph carried Christ into Egypt, fleeing before Herod's envy... The first Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams: the second was given a revelation of the divine plan and a share in its accomplishment. Joseph the patriarch stored up grain, not for himself but for all the people: our Joseph was given custody of the living bread from heaven to keep safe both for himself and the whole world. There is no doubt that the Joseph to whom the Savior's mother was engaged was a good and faithful man. He was, I say, the wise and faithful steward whom the Lord appointed to support his mother and care for himself in childhood, singling him out for his complete reliability to help him with his momentous plan." (Hom. 2 super Missus est, 11.16: PL 183, 69-70)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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