“We can have recourse to many saints as our intercessors, but go especially to Joseph…”
– St. Teresa of Avila
Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the guardian of the Christ-child.
The Gospels are very clear that Joseph is not the father of the Lord Jesus. The child born of the Virgin Mary is God and has no earthly father. The body of Christ’s human nature is created by what the scriptures describe as “the power of the Holy Spirit.” If this explanation confounds us, we are rightly confounded. Christ is like us inasmuch as he shares with us a human nature and lives a real human life. And yet, Christ is unlike us inasmuch as he is the singular instance in which a divine nature and a human nature share communion in a divine person.
Simply expressed, Christ is God and man. It is because of Christ’s willingness to accept a human nature with all its limitations that we are able to participate in his divine nature. This participation, a gift given to us by Christ, is the most profound mystery of the Faith.
The mind can apprehend this mysterious revelation, even appreciate the “why” of it, but cannot fully understand the “how” of it all.
We can imagine that Joseph himself did not fully understand the circumstances surrounding Christ’s conception and birth, but he was able to love what he did not fully understand. It is in this love that both his faith and his sanctity are revealed.
The Scriptures for today’s solemnity are redolent of the Messianic expectations of Israel by which is meant the passionate belief professed by the descendents of Abraham that God would raise up from one of their own people a Savior who would manifest in word and deed the power of God. The revelation of the Messiah would change Israel and the world forever.
The first scripture is a small section from the Second Book of Samuel that presents the prophet Nathan speaking to King David about his future heir. David will have a son who will accomplish something that David will not. What will the son of David do? Build the Lord God a magnificent temple.
King David’s son, Solomon, would accomplish this feat and would do so with such glory that generations after its destruction, his temple is still remembered as one of the most glorious of all human artistic achievements. However, the Church does not present this scripture from Second Samuel today so that we can remember Solomon, son of David, but Jesus, the Son of David!
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