Sunday Readings

To follow one's vocation. Solemnity of St. Joseph (A)

Joseph Evans comments on the readings for the Solemnity of St. Joseph and Luis Herrera offers a brief video homily.

Joseph Evans-March 17, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

St. Joseph is a great saint because he was always ready to respond to God's challenges. To use an image from the world of tennis, Joseph was always willing to respond to whatever serve life threw at him. And each challenge led him to greater fidelity. 

The Gospel of today's solemnity - a feast that fills us with so much joy and encourages us to renew our own vocation - shows us Joseph having to face one of the greatest challenges anyone can face: the thought of losing the love of his life. And his anguish was even greater because he was facing a distressing situation without knowing how it had come about. Mary was pregnant, but how? Numerous theories have been proposed as to what Joseph might have been thinking, but the key point is that his priority is not to embarrass Mary. Isn't it amazing that the first episode we find in the Christian gospels is about a man trying not to embarrass a woman? There are great lessons here, especially for us men. The Gospels are much more "feminists" than we think.

So she decided to put an end to the betrothal in the most discreet way possible. While she was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to her in a dream and said: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, for the child in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."What is the angel saying here? He is saying to St. Joseph (and to us through him): do not be afraid to follow your vocation. A vocation that for St. Joseph was both marriage and celibacy, as it was for Our Lady. Mary and Joseph lived both vocations and, therefore, are models for both married and celibate people.

The angel tells Joseph: do not be afraid to live your vocation knowing that this is totally beyond you, that God has intervened, that you are entering a situation in which you are totally inadequate, that it takes you far beyond the limited - though perfectly legitimate - plans you had made ("that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit".).

Don't be afraid to enter into a situation where the Holy Spirit does things you don't understand, asks you for a level of love you never expected, even a whole new level of purity and refinement. Don't be afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to complicate your life with the entrance of God made man into it. God broke into your life in a whole new way, just as He breaks into ours. For most of us it is a call to marriage; some of us are called to celibacy.

Today's feast challenges us to consider how we respond to God's plans, which often means changing our own, aware that those plans may also come to us through intermediaries, just as God's plans came to Joseph through an angel.

Homily on the readings of the Solemnity of St. Joseph (A)

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaA short one-minute reflection for these Sunday readings.

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