This is my homily for 19 March 2010, fest of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. To view the readings, go to http://www.usccb.org/nab and click “March 19” in the calendar.
[__01.] March 19 – the feast of Joseph, husband of Mary – is a feast day that nearly always falls during the forty days of Lent and interrupts our fasting, especially interrupting our fasting and abstinence today, on a Friday of Lent.
We remember that today is a feast. Not only is it a feast of a material or physical reality (a feast on the table) but is also a spiritual feast, a feast that calls us to:
friendship - a feast that invites us to reach out to each other, to put the good of another person before my own.
For example, a phone call or visit to someone who may be ill or may be dying is a way to celebrate this feast of St. Joseph who is patron of the sick and the dying.
We pray for his intercession today.
[__02.] We also remember Joseph’s quiet spiritual and physical presence within the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
While today is not a fast day – strictly speaking – we might remember that Joseph himself fasted from words. He was the father and provider of the familiy. However, he was also the quiet father and provider who does not speak even one word in the Gospel.
[__03.] Joseph is asked to raise the child Jesus, the son of God, the son of Mary. But, this child – Jesus – is not his flesh and blood. He becomes aware of this.
But Joseph does not turn this fact into a lament. Or, at least, he does not lament this for very long.
He thinks about lamenting it, he thinks about the logic of the situation. And, he reaches the quite logical – initial – conclusion of turning Mary away. Her child is not his.
But – Joseph’s lament – and Joseph’s logic – ultimately – are turned to Joseph’s love.
He pours himself out for Jesus and Mary who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered. We remember Joseph as a provider;
[__04.] we remember Joseph is as devoted as a father would be to his own flesh and blood.
But, Joseph is also called to do this for Jesus who is born of the Holy Spirit.
We are aware of the special bond that emerges between mother and child. This is especially true in the first few months and first few years of life.
A father has to learn how to be a dad during these months and years. And, this role involves the same devotion and support which Joseph offers to his family.
Of course, mothers also have to learn how to be mothers. But, fathers really have to make a special effort, while also sometimes standing on the periphery. Sometimes, the father can even be left out or feel left out.
This is something Joseph would have felt also – and even moreso due to Jesus’s divine origins, divine conception and divine birth.
[__05.] Joseph is the foster father of Jesus on earth. Joseph gives us an example of fatherhood and sacrifice.
Fatherhood requires not only feasting but also fasting at times.
Today, we might also pray for those men in our families who did not have their own children, but nonetheless served as fathers to us and thus taught us to love Jesus in what we say and do – in the ways we feast and fast. [_end_]