Today’s liturgical collision of Lenten preparation and the Feast of St. Joseph is rich. Too rich to cover even a fraction of the figures and realities which the Church, guided through the Holy Spirit, has gifted God’s people.
So we’ll start with a small morsel and then we’ll pray.
Before we get to the reason St. Joseph is such an inspiring figure during Lent, we start with David and Nathan. In the second book of Samuel, King David tells his trusted advisor, the prophet Nathan, of his plans to build a temple for the Ark of God.
Nathan’s first reaction? Go for it.
David was making great plans for God, but God had greater plans for salvation history. Just like Moses dying just shy of the Promised Land, God’s temple was eventually built, but King David never saw it.
Just like David’s desire to see a temple built for his Lord, St. Joseph raised the Son of God in patience – likely under a whole lot of pressure, but died before he would witness the crucifixion and joyful resurrection of the Messiah.
The theme of not being ‘at home’ starts through the nomadic lifestyles of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David – some of our favorite Old Testament heroes. God makes it known to Nathan that he was wandering with David and the Israelites all along.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews (cf. Heb 11:13), points out that these heroes died in faith, seeking a homeland. And they never even knew of the resurrection.
They did it anyway.
St. Joseph is one of the few canonized Saints that shares this specific faith with those figures.
There are three things I want to focus on about St. Joseph on this day:
- He was exceedingly patient.
- He accepted his task as it pertained to building up the kingdom of God.
- He loved his family.
We know St. Joseph was a holy man. “A just man” doesn’t only mean he paid his taxes and helped elderly ladies with their groceries. It means he was exceptional in righteousness.
He was the husband of the sinless Virgin Mary and chosen by God (as the descendant of King David) to be the foster father of Christ.
Put yourself in his position around the time of the annunciation. Do you react like St. Joseph at every turn? “Wait, you mean I’m charged with raising (and teaching the faith to) the Son of God?” He had a lot of expectations to meet, and a lot of work ahead of him.
Recall, through all of this, we have seen the resurrection and St. Joseph had not.
Good and gracious God, let each of us approach this Lent with a heart full of patience.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to say “Do not be afraid” to Joseph, was he thinking, “Oh, sure, I’m of the house of David; the time of the prophesy has come” as he made the decision to take Mary (and Jesus) into his home?
But what’s important is that he did so with docility and obedience. He didn’t fight like Jeremiah (Jer 1:6) or Jacob (Gen 32:25-29). Sometimes we struggle to understand the will of God, but of ultimate importance is our obedience.
Creator of the universe, help us to understand your will, accept our mission, and offer ourselves as a sacrifice for Your Kingdom.
Why would St. Joseph do any of this? Love.
He loved his Creator. He loved Our Lady. He loved the Messiah so much that he was willing to abandon all of his plans in favor of God’s will.
What does that look like in our lives? What does that look like this Lent? Can we drop everything to spend quality time with a young child or aging parent? Can we open our hearts deeper to our spouse? Love actively (1 John 4:8).
Loving Father, teach us to love. Help us to fan the flames of that love through service and self sacrifice. In the love of our neighbors, help us to see your face.