Sermon: Joseph

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Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant and since they were not yet married, he decided to put her away quietly, but the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream: “‘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 her as his wife.”

From here, we have a few other accounts of Joseph: the manger, when Jesus was presented in the temple as a baby, the flight to Egypt when they were fleeing Herod, and our scene today, when Jesus became separated from him and Mary during the festival in Jerusalem. Outside of these events we know very little of Joseph, the one who was called on by God the Father, to raise his one and only son. If you think your kids got/get into mischief, what do you think it would have been like raising the Son of God?

We’ve talked about the “Infancy Gospels” before. These are writings outside the canon of Scripture, which – although fun to read – are not considered God inspired, and many are classified heretical, one of which is The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. It is not the Bible, but it is fun and the stories tell of Jesus as a boy. Here’s a taste:

“On the first of the week, when Jesus was playing with the children on the roof of a certain house, it happened that one of the children pushed another down from the roof to the ground, and he was killed. And the parents of the dead boy, who had not seen this, cried out against Joseph and Mary, saying: Your son has thrown our son down to the ground, and he is dead. But Jesus was silent, and answered them nothing. And Joseph and Mary came in haste to Jesus; and His mother asked Him, saying: My lord, tell me if thou didst throw him down. And immediately Jesus went down from the roof to the ground, and called the boy by his name, Zeno. And he answered Him: My lord. And Jesus said to him: Was it I that threw thee down from the roof to the ground? And he said: No, my lord. And the parents of the boy who had been dead wondered, and honoured Jesus for the miracle that had been wrought.”

The boy falls off the roof and dies, so in order to defend himself, Jesus raises the boy from the dead and asked him for the truth. True or false? I don’t know (the church would have me tell you, “No.”), but regardless can you imagine what it must have been like to raise Jesus? However, just as God the Father knew who to select as his mother, God the Father also knew the perfect man to select as his earthly father: a humble carpenter, named Joseph.

In the shadow of Jesus, Mary, the disciples and the others, Joseph is almost forgotten by us, but as the head of the Holy Family, his role is significant.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes: “St. Joseph was chosen among all men, to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster-father of the Infant-God, and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind.”

There is no doubt that Jesus called Joseph father. Therefore, there is no reason why we shouldn’t call on him as well. He is one that responds in faith and protects not only the Son of God and Mother of God, but us also, the sons and daughters of God as well.

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