The Rev’d Sandra Juniper (voice only)
Click to read the Reflection
Reading Matthew 1.18 – 24
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an 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 what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfil what the LORD had said through the prophet: 23″The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the LORD had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
We might be forgiven for thinking it’s Christmas given the above and not Springtime however it is St Joseph’s day, and we celebrate it and who was he? Only one text described Joseph’s livelihood. It is found in Matthew 13:55 when bemused citizens of Nazareth remark “isn’t this the carpenters son? When looking at Jesus. And further in Mark 6:3 “Jesus the first born, followed in his father’s footsteps. Isn’t his mother’s name Mary and aren’t his brothers James…..etc”
But before all this we can read about the scandal and gossip that would have occurred as to Joseph’s betrothed, Mary. All that tittle tattle throughout a small village. It went on then and goes on even today and Joseph would have been very aware of the gossip. We can read of his thoughts of ridding himself of the situation but behold a dream. Dreams seem to come to Josephs don’t they,
and I guess other people in scripture.
In a place like Nazareth, houses were built of stone or mud brick. Wood was used for roofing. Beams were stretched from wall to wall and used to support a covering of bushes and clay plaster. A carpenter would be needed to cut and fix the beams, make the doors, the pieces of furniture, beds, tables, stools, lamp stands, boxes and chests. A carpenter would also make wooden ploughs and yokes for oxen.
His tools would have much in common with the modern carpenter- hammer, gimlet, compass, axe, plumb line (remember Amos) the square, ruler, drill chisel and saw. A fair measure of technical skill was needed in the job.
Most families in Nazareth would also have a strip of land which they farmed for their immediate needs. (Jesus’ use of pastoral images has its roots in his work on the family holding)
It was the duty of a Jewish father to teach his son the ways of faith. Before he went to school in the synagogue, Jesus would have received his elementary religious training from Joseph.
In the Jewish tradition a person’s lineage was determined by one’s legal father. Joseph is called a son of David, and because he adopted Jesus, he too could claim lineage from David.
Saint Luke tells the story of Jesus from Mary’s point of view. Saint Matthew tells it from Joseph’s. He is shown as an ordinary good Jew, obedient to the Law. God intervenes and shatters his life expectations. He is called to a new level of obedience. Joseph was asked to take care of Mary and her child. The one to be born had a divine mission – to save people from their sins. He must have realized he had a special part in all of this and obeyed without hesitation, and we can assume with joy. Years passed in Nazareth in a faithfulness expressed in routine services that never drew attention to himself.
Yet one important commission in those early days “……. You must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins”
Spend some time resting in his company. The ordinariness of routine. He understands your daily tasks. Let him look lovingly at you and all you have to do today. Be at ease in the presence of the one who lived in the presence of Jesus and Mary.
On December 8,1870, Pope Pius IX named him the Patron Saint of the Universal Church and a number of churches, religious homes, hospitals, and schools throughout the world are named after him. He is the Patron Saint of carpenters and home sales, as well as many nations (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Peru, Vietnam) and cities (San José).
Pope: 2021 is The Year of St. Joseph – Catholic Stand
In proclaiming 2021 the Year of St. Joseph Pope Francis is honouring St. Joseph as the original “ordinary” saint. He is reminding the faithful of the need for our own patience, humility, work, and closeness to Jesus through our trials.