Posted by: fvbcdm | December 18, 2012

Feast of Saint Paul My (18 Dec 2012)

Let’s talk about Saint Joseph today, since Saint Matthew describes to us in today’s Gospel the role of Saint Joseph in the life of Our Lord. Joseph was engaged to Mary. They evidently lived in Nazareth, a small village in Galilee, the northern part of the Holy Land. They were not yet officially married and therefore were not yet living under the same roof. Our Lady had already conceived the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. On her return from her three-months visit to her elderly, but pregnant, cousin, Saint Elizabeth, it began to be apparent that she, too, was expecting a baby. Her fiancee, Joseph—“a just man” as sacred scripture describes him—has a number of options: he can denounce her publicly and make it legally clear that her baby was not his and that he will neither marry her nor support that baby; or he can privately terminate the engagement and just let Mary go her own way; or he could try to find out who the father of the baby was and under what circumstances the baby was conceived, and go from there. It was a very serious problem in his life as well as that of Our Lady. She must have wondered: since this is God’s doing, when is God going to make clear to us what must be done.

There is an old saying: God may be slow, but he is never late. So, in his own good time, God sent an angel to tell Joseph all that he needed to know about the pregnancy of his little fiancee. Joseph was to marry Mary according to their original plan; he was to be the legal and putative father of her child, and to raise the child as if he were his biological father. One of the prerogatives of the father of the family was to name his children. In this case, neither Joseph nor Mary is given any choice in the matter. God is the true father of Jesus, and God chooses his name. The angel tells both Mary and Joseph: you are to name him Jesus. Jesus means “God is savior.” So Saint Matthew tells us quite clearly: he (Saint Joseph) named him Jesus. He also tells us that Joseph had no relations with Mary “until she bore a son.” The word “until” causes problems to some. The word in the ancient language means “before,” but it does not necessarily mean that the situation changed “after.” It is true that Our Lady and Saint Joseph did not have sexual relations before the birth of Our Lord. But it is also true that they had none after it, either. This is why the Church, in both east and west, has always spoken of the “Blessed Mary, EVER-VIRGIN.” It was not until the 16th century that some of the newly-founded Protestant groups began to deny the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Our Lord, based upon a misreading of that word “until” in Saint Matthew’s gospel. Be that as it may, her perpetual virginity is a dogma of our Catholic faith and not open to question or denial. The immense dignity of Saint Joseph as the father of the Holy Family and the legal father of Jesus is a joy for us who are devoted to him, as we remember that by the command of God, Joseph took Mary as his wife, and named her child “Jesus”: God is savior. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message in the past.


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