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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of Saint Joseph, Mary’s husband who humbly took the Child with him

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 1, 18-25

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.

He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.

She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.'

Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home;

he had not had intercourse with her when she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Today the church celebrates the feast of St. Joseph, Mary’s husband. As a descendent of the house of David, Joseph’s role was to tie Jesus to the Davidic line, refiguring the patriarchs, who often received revelations from God in dreams, and to make the child Jesus retrace the path of the exodus from Egypt to the promised land, thus to place him in the heart of the history of Israel and made him an heir of the promises. A man of silence, Joseph learned about God’s will every day and obeyed to it. An ancient legend says that he died in a state of profound peace, which was given to him by Jesus. This is why early in the western tradition people began to invoke Joseph for the gift of a good death. The Churches of the East remember him together with David and James, the brother of the Lord, during the days following Christmas. Tied to the infancy of Jesus, Joseph reminds all believers of the importance of listening to the Lord, especially in those moments of life when difficulty seems to prevail. This Gospel passage from Matthew recounts how Joseph became involved in the mystery of Jesus’ birth. The evangelist seems to want to emphasize the oddity of Jesus’ birth. He speaks about Joseph and the doubly-serious drama he is living. As a betrayed husband, he should have sought an official divorce, which would have made Mary appear to be an adulteress and cause her to be ostracized by her relatives and all the inhabitants of the village. Obviously, Mary also thought of this when she heard the angel’s announcement. But she obeyed nonetheless. For his part, Joseph decided to repudiate his wife, but in secret. It was a considerate – even merciful – act of justice. But if that just man, who was much more considerate than the law, had carried out his decision, he would have been acting against the deeper justice of God. There is, in fact, a greater purpose of God that the angel reveals to Joseph. Joseph listens to the angel and understands what is happening around and inside him. Thus he becomes a disciple of the Gospel. And the angel continues, “You are to name him Jesus.” Joseph must recognize and announce who the child is. This was Joseph’s true justice: to listen to the Word of God, spoken to him through an angel, a messenger of God, and not to follow his fears and considerations. If we listen to the Gospel we too will be able to take Jesus with us as the friend of our days and of our entire lives.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets