Fourth week of Advent – Sunday

Joseph, father of Jesus

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,  yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord  appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”….When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Mt 1,18-24

Joseph had no role in the conception of Jesus but he was called to be his father and the bridegroom of Mary. This means that it has been important for God that his Son could grow and being educated in a family. The Nazaret family is a normal one, well inserted into the social context of its time, it gets pleasure from its right well being, assured by the work of Joseph and by the house hold activity of the mother. Mary and Joseph love and respect each other and cooperate to the education of Jesus. In its simplicity it is the model of the Christian family. During the liturgical year we will be able to ponder again on Mary; today we meditate on Joseph, to know the profile of the man chosen by God to be the head of he Holy Family of Nazaret. Joseph reflects the image of the Heavenly father: he is good, merciful and provident; he takes care of the family, being illuminated and guided by God, as a faithful and good sense servant has to do. The goodness and the mercy of Joseph are revealed, in their entire greatness, in the passage of the today Gospel. Joseph, not yet informed by the angel that Jesus was conceived by the action of the Holy Spirit, decides to secretly dismiss Mary not to expose her to the public trial and subsequently to the stoning to death, as the unfaithful women. His docility to be guided by God is revealed, indeed, in obeying to gradually execute what the angels sent to him suggest: “ Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your spouse”, when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” (Mt, 2,13), “go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead”( Mt 2,20). Joseph always obeys and executes. He, from Galilee, decides to go with Mary to Bethlehem, in Judea, because he respects his social obligations; he brings Jesus to the temple to be circumcised and, when Jesus is a boy, brings him to the temple according to the use, because he is observant in the respect of the law of Israel. Joseph is appreciated and well considered by everyone in Nazaret, to the point that Jesus, in that town, was always called by everyone the son of the carpenter. The greatness of Joseph is a real one, because it is manifested both in the exceptional situations and in the normal needs of the daily life. He is the perfect model of husband, father and citizen.

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