Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2003
Dear Friends in Christ,
Since the tenth century, March 19th has been observed in the sacred liturgy as a feast in honor of St. Joseph, Husband of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church. At first only a local and optional feast in some dioceses of the world, this celebration became an obligatory Solemnity for the Roman Rite in the sixteenth century. On Wednesday of this week, the parish Mass, usually celebrated at noon, will be at 8:30 am to allow our school children to celebrate this feast of Our Lord’s foster father.
Joseph, of course, is not the biological father of the Lord Jesus, but he is that just man to whom God the Father entrusted on earth the care of His only begotten Son. As the husband of the Mother of God and the foster father through whom Jesus is constituted a lawful heir to David, Joseph played an indispensable part in the unfolding of the Plan of Salvation. When the life of Christ was threatened by the bloodlust and jealousy of King Herod, Joseph (warned by an angel) fled with his wife and the Child into Egypt. In this heroic act, Joseph is revealed as the guardian of the Savior and obedient servant of God, and it is this dimension of St. Joseph’s role in Christ’s life that causes him to be known as the Guardian of the Universal Church.
Sacred Scripture tells us very little about this most extraordinary man, but we may infer from the few details revealed to us that Joseph was an upright and devout man who surrendered his entire being to God in the obedience of faith. For this reason, Joseph is rightly regarded as a model of paternal authority, spousal fidelity, and religious devotion. The great St. Bernard of Clairvaux taught that "when we do not know how to pray, we turn to St. Joseph." In this spirit, the Church exhorts us to take St. Joseph as an exemplar of virtue and to seek his guidance in being faithful disciples of his foster Son. "Go to Joseph" is good advice for those seeking to understand more completely the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus.
Father Jay Scott Newman
St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.