It is God’s eternal and loving plan to give every human being access to his Kingdom, which is “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface, Mass of Christ the King). The coming of this Kingdom was prophesied long ago to King David through the prophet Nathan, as we hear in today’s first reading.
The prophet speaks to David of a future descendant whose lasting kingdom God himself will make firm: “I will raise up your heir after you, … and I will make his kingdom firm.” This promised heir is Jesus Christ, the One to whom the prophet refers when he says, “your house and your kingdom shall endure before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” When the Angel Gabriel spoke to the Blessed Virgin Mary about the Child she would conceive, he told her that Jesus will fulfill these ancient prophecies: “the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33).
In his infinite wisdom God chose and still chooses to associate human beings with the work of his Son Jesus Christ in establishing his Kingdom that lasts forever. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the person most closely united to the mystery of human redemption brought about by Christ. The next person whom God chose to involve deeply in the life of Jesus the Redeemer in bringing about the Kingdom is St. Joseph. It is for this reason that the Church celebrates today’s feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a solemnity.
We know that the whole life of Christ from birth to death was permeated by the mystery of the Cross. St. Joseph shared in this mystery long before the event of Calvary. Let us ponder the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, as recounted in today’s Gospel. We see the mystery of the Cross looming and at the same glowing in the background. What a difficult and disconcerting situation it must have been for Joseph to find out that the woman he was betrothed to was already pregnant!
But Joseph was a “righteous man.” This means that he was disposed and willing to cooperate with whatever God asked of him. When he received God’s message in a dream through the angel of the Lord, Joseph did not argue nor raise questions. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary his spouse, he walked the path of obedient faith. Walking the path of the obedient faith requires self-denial, a mortification, a true death to self. This is what St. Joseph did. His glory lies in the fact that as the foster father of Jesus he patiently and obediently carried all of the burdens that came with Jesus’ incarnation, birth, and the perilous flight to Egypt. What a truly righteous man Joseph was, a man of the hidden mystery of the Cross, a man of obedient faith.
St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading that righteousness comes from faith. The righteousness of St. Joseph came from his obedient faith, the same faith that was first expressed by our father Abraham. We are all called to a life of righteousness – which is our way of participating in bringing about God’s Kingdom in the world. And St. Joseph is given to us as our example today. We cannot cooperate with God for our own salvation or work for his Kingdom and for the salvation of others without entering the mystery of the Cross through the path of obedient faith. May St. Joseph obtain for us the grace to be like him in selfless and joyful service of Jesus and Mary.
How do I imitate the humility, faithfulness and obedience of St. Joseph? Why do I find it difficult to patiently and obediently carry the burdens of life in faith? How do I follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph and Abraham in a life of righteousness?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 18, no. 3. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.