March 19, 2020 – Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031920.cfm)
When life becomes confusing, messy and overwhelming, how do I react? When a relationship is intrigued by anger or hatred or contempt over a misunderstood situation, am I easily driven by my feelings or do I withdraw from the situation and hide?
Today, on this Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, the Gospel presents to us an attitude that portrays wisdom and compassion and above all an attitude that seeks guidance from God. Joseph’s relationship with Mary was intrigued with a suspicion of scandalous betrayal and unfaithfulness. Within the period of engagement between them, Mary got pregnant. The people in their village knew that Joseph was not the father. Joseph himself was confident that Mary’s child in her womb was not his. Joseph knew that the Jewish law would find Mary guilty of adultery. This is an act punishable by shame and death. Their law mandated Joseph to divorce Mary.
In a small village like Nazareth, gossip seemed to be faster than lightning. Surely, every person in their village knew that Mary was pregnant. If we would imagine Joseph, certainly, he too was hurt. He might have felt being betrayed. Joseph was most likely in darkness at that moment, confused and overwhelmed by the situation.
But then, Joseph showed a non-reactive attitude. Instead of condemning Mary immediately, he showed compassion by divorcing her silently and avoiding to put Mary into disgrace and bullying from others. This particularly, pleased God. Joseph was a good man, righteous and thoughtful. We expect Joseph to have been really hurt by this scandal yet what Joseph showed towards Mary was mercy rather than revenge and love rather than hate and not withdrawal in the midst of his own disappointment, confusion and fear.
This has become the way for God to reveal the divine plan. That is why, God revealed to Joseph in the night of dreaming and pondering. Through that revelation, Joseph’s view of Mary and her pregnancy and even of himself became larger and brighter. Joseph began to see the overwhelming and scandalous situation of Mary’s pregnancy through the eyes of faith rather than his fear and disappointment; through God’s love rather than anger and hate.
Joseph saw and felt that what has been revealed to him was truly scandalous because God revealed Himself to him, because God has become man there in the womb of Mary. It was scandalous because we thought that God is up there or out there in the heavens only, a place that no person can reach. But then, Mary got pregnant.
This is what blows our mind now, because through that unexpected pregnancy, God tells us the He is intimately present with us; he tells us that humanity can become pregnant with God.
After the revelation to Joseph, he understood that Mary’s pregnancy was a statement of God’s faithfulness and commitment to us. God commits himself to be our God; He commits himself to choose us as His people. For this reason, Joseph was told to name the baby, “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.“
This is God’s assurance to us now that he is present and he lives in the midst of our lives, in the midst of our pain, of our failures, of our disappointments, hurts and fears and even in the midst of an overwhelming situation as we are experiencing it today amidst the Covid-19 that brought panic and fears in our global community. Jesus is in our midst in order to bring us His mercy, his love and his friendship, and the assurance of his presence and of his healing power. Hinaut pa.
May, Joseph, the Husband of Mary, pray for us.
Jom Baring, CSsR