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Sunday:       Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Date:         March 20, 2017.
Year:         A
The readings: [2 Sam. 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Rom. 4:13, 16-18, 22; Mt. 1:16, 18-21, 24a; (or Lk. 2:41-51a)]
The message:  St. Joseph, royalty without a crown.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry.
Total words:  1291


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** The readings follow the sermon.

Friends of Jesus, today, we are celebrating the Feast of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Patron of the Universal Church.

Who was St. Joseph? And what do we know about him? Most of what we do know of him is found in the First and Third Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Based on the content of the Holy Bible, a few months before the Annunciation, Joseph settled in Nazareth. [Lk. 2:4] From the same source, we learn that he was a carpenter, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus. [Mt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3]

When Joseph was engaged to be married to the Virgin Mary, he learned that she was pregnant. Not wanting to cause a public scandal, he was considering to dismiss her quietly. [Mt. 1:19] Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife for the conception of her Child resulted from the power of the Holy Spirit. [Mt. 1:20] Consequently, as we know, Joseph took the Virgin Mary as his wife. [Mt. 1:24]

From this, we are to understand that Joseph was God's choice of a foster father for Jesus. Joseph was a respectable and righteous man. [Mt. 1:19] Based on the teachings of the virginity of Mary, we learn that the relationship that Joseph enjoyed with the Blessed Virgin Mary was a chaste marriage.

As the Holy Scriptures teach us, Joseph endured anxieties in life as we all do. When he went with Mary to Bethlehem to register, "while they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child." [Lk. 2:6] Mary gave birth and laid Jesus in a manger because "there was no place for them in the inn." [Lk. 2:7]

When Joseph took Mary to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord, he heard what Simeon had to say about the Child. Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was being said about Him. [Lk. 2:33]

Then we hear of the trial of Joseph when an angel appeared to him in a dream. Joseph was told to take the Child and His mother and to flee to Egypt and remain there until he was told to leave. For Herod was about to seek out Jesus in order to kill Him [Mt. 2:13] when he heard that a child had been born King of the Jews. [Mt. 2:2] Obeying the angel, by night, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt. [Mt. 2:14] Escaping to Egypt also served the purpose of protecting the Kingship of Jesus.

The last mention of St. Joseph in the Holy Bible is when Jesus was twelve years old and the family made their annual pilgrimage to the Holy City. This is when Jesus stayed behind in the Temple without the knowledge of His parents. For three days, Joseph went through great anxieties. [Lk. 2:41-8] Not only did he have to cope with having lost his foster Child Jesus, but he also had to support Mary who must have been worrying to the point of not being able to sleep at night. This was a heavy cross for St. Joseph to bear.

Over and above what has just been said, in some Bible passages, Jesus is referred to a the Son of Joseph. [Jn. 1:45, 6:42, Lk. 4:22] This confirms that Joseph was the adoptive father of Jesus.

The Feast of St. Joseph can be traced to the 4 th century in the Eastern Church. This Feast was entered on July 20 th in an old Coptic calendar that is in the possession of the Church.

In 1621, Pope Gregory XV declared the Feast of St. Joseph as a Feast of obligation. In 1726, Pope Benedict XIII inserted the name of Saint Joseph in the Litanies of the Saints. And finally, in December, 1870, according to the wish of the bishops and the faithful, Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph as the Patron of the Catholic Church.

As is perceived from all these facts, the recognition that St. Joseph received was very progressive in the Church, certainly not equal to the recognition that the Virgin Mary received over the centuries.

Briefly reviewing today's three readings, our hearts perceive other wonders about Saint Joseph. The First Reading speaks of Yahweh being a Divine Father to us as His people. The Second Reading speaks of our spiritual father Abraham. The Gospel speaks of the end of the lineage of our spiritual fathers, Saint Joseph.

From the First Reading and other Biblical passages, we also learn that Saint Joseph was of royal blood. He was a descendant of king David. Saint Joseph was born at a time when the Jewish nation no longer had a ruling king. Saint Joseph was a king without a throne and a crown.

By marrying the Blessed Virgin Mary and through the adoption of our Lord Jesus as his foster child, Saint Joseph surrendered his kingship to Jesus. Through Saint Joseph, Jesus legally became the rightful King of this world, over and above being the King of the Kingdom of God.

I should clarify here that when we are talking of the Kingdom of God, we are speaking of two different Kingdoms.

First of all, there is the worldly kingdom. God has always been the King of this world. He rightfully made Himself King over His people as the Holy Bible teaches us. In the days of Samuel, God's people said, "Give us a king to govern over us." [1 Sam. 8:6]

In response to this, God said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you [Samuel], but they have rejected Me from being King over them. [1 Sam. 8:7] Consequently, God said to Samuel, "Listen to their voice and set a king over them." [1 Sam. 8:22]

Therefore, the Kingship of God the Father over earth was ruled by men chosen by God for a period of time during the days of the Old Testament. The Lord God, who once ruled the earth over His people before the days of Samuel, has once more regained His Divine Kingship through Jesus Christ. Through Joseph who surrendered his kingship to Jesus, this was accomplished.

Regarding the spiritual Kingdom of God, this Kingdom was lost to Satan through the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Following this, Satan became the prince of this world. Through death on the cross, Jesus regained the spiritual Kingdom of God. Speaking of His death, Jesus said, "Now the ruler of this world will be driven out." [Jn. 12:31] As the Book of Revelations tells us, "War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven. [Rev. 12:7-8]

Under the protection of Saint Joseph, Jesus accomplished His mission on earth to rightfully regain His Kingdom in Heaven through death on the cross. Through the royal blood lineage of Saint Joseph, Jesus accomplished His mission on earth to rightfully regain His Kingdom on earth.

While many of us know very little about St. Joseph, viewing him as an old man who protected the Virgin Mary, there are many hidden mysteries regarding his life. To perceive these mysteries regarding his life, we must ask ourselves, "Why did God choose Joseph and not someone else?" It was because, through Joseph, mankind was about to restore God as the true King, a Kingship that rightfully belonged to Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

* * * * * * * * * *

First Reading...

"The word of the Lord came to Nathan: 'Go and tell my servant David: 'When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.'" [2 Sam. 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16]

* * * * * * * * * *

Second Reading...

"The promise that Abraham would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

For this reason the promise depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham.

He is the father of all of us, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations.' Abraham believed in the presence of the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Hoping against hope, Abraham believed that he would become 'the father of many nations,' according to what was said, 'So numerous shall your descendants be.'

Therefore his faith 'was reckoned to him as righteousness.'" [Rom. 4:13, 16-18, 22]

* * * * * * * * * *

Gospel Reading...

"Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife." [Mt. 1:16, 18-21, 24a]

OR

"Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when Jesus was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.

When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, 'Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.' he said to them, 'Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them." [Lk. 2:41-51a]

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