Intention

That God raise up men after the example of Joseph

Scripture

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Mt 1:19)

Reflection

In St Matthew’s Gospel, St Joseph is described as a “just man” (Mt 1:19). What do we mean by a “just man”? We immediately think of qualities like integrity of character, dedication to duty, fair and honest in dealings.

We could expand the qualities of a just man to include one who assumes his responsibilities without complaint or reticence, who is self-sacrificing and generous in his assistance to others. He is a man who is concerned for those in need.

Such a man looks beyond his own interests and is directed to the interests of others, indeed, to the wellbeing of the community and the broader society. In all, a just man is a good man, indeed, a man to be admired.

St Matthew describes St Joseph in this way particularly as he outlines how he responded to the discovery that Mary, his betrothed, was with child:

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Mt 1:19)

With the revelation that Mary was expecting a child, a child he knew was not his own, Joseph’s world must have collapsed. Yet, in response to the angel’s message, he accepted Mary unconditionally.

Troubled by Mary’s mysterious pregnancy Joseph’s natural instinct was to ‘protect her reputation’, as some translations put it. He did not want to expose her to public disgrace.

This reveals the character of Joseph. He was, as St Matthew says, a just man, overriding his own natural feelings of shock, disappointment and confusion and directing himself to show concern and respect for Mary.

In a homily in 2017, Pope Francis commented,

“The nobility of Joseph’s heart is such that what he learned from the law he made dependent on charity. Today, in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident, Joseph appears as the figure of a respectful and sensitive man. Even though he does not understand the bigger picture, he makes a decision to protect Mary’s good name, her dignity and her life. In his hesitation about how best to act, God helped him by enlightening his judgment”.

In the years ahead this good man gave genuine attention to the needs of his wife, Mary, as circumstances demanded. One imagines his concern for her on the trip to Bethlehem, as she was close to giving birth. He must have been embarrassed that he was unable to find suitable lodgings, having to settle for accommodation in a stable. He experienced what we call today, ‘housing stress’.

Later, one can imagine his anxiety for the safety of the family as he learns that Herod is seeking to kill the child. The move to Egypt prompted by the need to remove the child from danger would have been very uncertain and taxing.

He was now a refugee trying to care for his family in a foreign country. He was denied the supports that would have received if they had been resident in his home village of Nazareth. An added anxiety would have been the need to find employment to support his small family in an alien culture.

Joseph was sorely tried on a number of occasions. Yet this ‘just man’ faced these challenges by trusting in God.

 

Prayer

Father, you chose Joseph to be the guardian and protector of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus. He was a man upon whom you could rely because he was a just man.

He was a man willing to surrender his own needs and aspirations and assume responsibility for his wife and her child.

Lord, we pray that men may find in Joseph a model and inspiration and that they would aspire, like him, to be a just man whose life is dedicated to their responsibilities of being husband and father.

Amen.

Archbishop Julian Porteous Bio

Archbishop Julian Charles Porteous, DD, B. Theol. was born on June 5, 1949, in Sydney, and baptised in Rose Bay Parish. The eldest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters, Archbishop Julian has family links to Tasmania. His forebears arrived in Tasmania from England in 1853. His great grandfather and great grandmother were both born in Hobart, within one kilometre of St Mary’s Cathedral. His grandfather was named Manful Charles Hobart Granger.

31 Days Prayer Points

  1. Pray for the restoration of FAMILY, FATHERHOOD and MOTHERHOOD in our nation. Malachi 4:6
  2. Pray for healing for MARRIAGES, protection for CHILDREN and restoration of the sanctity of LIFE. Isaiah 58:12
  3. Pray for Revival, Renewal and Reformation for Australia, that our nation might return to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14

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