Looking for the likeness

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Joseph

St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4-5. 12-14. 16; Romans 4:13. 16-18. 22; Matthew 1:16. 18-21. 24 or Luke 2:41-51

"You must name him Jesus." (Matthew 1:21)

Two parishioners were looking at a statue of St Joseph in their church. One examined the pale figure of the statue pictured holding a lily and said to his companion, "This Joseph doesn't look as though he's got the strength to lift a saw, let alone cut a piece of timber. If this is what he was, like Mary and Jesus would have gone hungry." We all like to put a face on a character but it's difficult to get right.

Legends, paintings and sculptures depicting Joseph have grown to compensate for the few lines we find about him in the New Testament. Those few lines actually speak volumes. Matthew's words in the Gospel today, "a man of honour", sum it up. Joseph loved the Lord and walked humbly in his ways. Joseph was someone whose justice was informed by compassion; he would not expose Mary to public shame. He was a man of faith, accepting God's explanation. He was a man of action, saving his family when Herod threatened and later making a home for them in Nazareth.

No words of Joseph are recorded in the Gospel, but we can be certain of at least one sentence. Eight days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph carried out the angel's instruction and accepted the baby as his son by saying, "His name is Jesus." Today we can pray to share Joseph's faith and quiet humility, and look forward to seeing the real face of the man who cared for Jesus as his own son when the fullness of God's kingdom comes.

Prayer
Lord God, we thank you that you chose Joseph to see your Son grow from infancy; that Joseph taught him, raised him, cared for him and learned from him. We pray that we may always stay close to Jesus' heart, just as he did. Amen.

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