Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus and Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is spoken of only in the infancy narratives of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. In the former, he hears the angel's message about the impending birth of Jesus and is warned in a dream to take Jesus into Egypt to escape the treachery of King Herod. St. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus traces him back to King Solomon. St. Luke mentions St. Joseph as being born of the house of David which necessitates his returning to Bethlehem for the census. While Mary and he are there, Jesus is born. Joseph is again mentioned in the event that we call the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple. St. Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to Nathan rather than King Solomon. Some Scripture scholars believe that this is actually the lineage of the Blessed Mother rather than Joseph.
The Church provides a reading from either Gospel as an option for this Solemnity. However, I believe that the most powerful homily I ever heard on St. Joseph derived from the incident that we call the flight into Egypt even though this particular passage is not one of the two options. The homilist made the point that the Gospels mention Joseph only in relationship to Jesus. In the flight into Egypt, Joseph lets go of his own history, his present and his foreseeable future when he helps Jesus to escape to the safety of Egypt. The homilist went on to suggest that one could hope that the same could be said of us, that we were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of our relationship to Jesus.
As we celebrate this solemnity in 2013, we are also welcoming the papacy of Pope Francis as his ministry as the Bishop of Rome is inaugurated today. St. Joseph is regarded as the patron of the Universal Church. Let us pray that Pope Francis will, like St. Joseph, walk always with the Lord Jesus and guide our steps on that same path.