2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
This week our pilgrimage to Jesus’ Passion is interrupted by two Solemnities that recall his human origins. Jesus’ place in our human realm is as dependent upon the good will of Saint Joseph as upon the consent of Mary. Jesus’ birth would have been incomplete without a legitimizing father to give him a name and a place in the human sphere. Incarnation is more than being enfleshed: to be human is to take a place in society, and Joseph taught Jesus a trade, how to worship and live as an observant Jew. He modeled parental responsibility, concern and worry, the intimacy and love of a father, rendering God the Father lovingly tangible in Jesus’ human development and religious experience.
Jesus would channel Joseph’s example into the challenging and caring rapport he enjoyed with his disciples, his concern for sinners, his healing touch, his sensitivity to nature, his impatience with hypocrisy, his pastoral concern for the crowds drawn to him. They became the family he raised for himself, rather than the outwardly conventional family unit that had shaped his life.
Saint Joseph also manifests an example for us: he protected that fragile life of the infant Son of God. There’s a conscientious attention and delicacy that we, each of us, must bring to welcome the living Christ within, if he is not to be relegated to the cold, cerebral realm of doctrine.
As a living force, mustn’t we guard and protect the Lord’s presence from neglect and dissipation into our distractions, duties and pleasures? Mustn’t we be ready to open to his summons and incarnate him into our lives?