|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEARS A, B, AND C|
|By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary [March 19]|
Joseph, Ideal Husband and Father
|2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16||Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22||Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Luke 2:41-51|
In Christian tradition, Joseph has been given a much lower profile than Mary. One reason for this is that, whereas we give the title “Mother of Jesus” to Mary, we reserve the title “Father of Jesus” to the heavenly Father, in our bid to highlight the divinity of Jesus. A second reason has been our reluctance to call Joseph “husband” of Mary, in a bid to highlight the virginity of Mary. Today, Vatican II has tried to correct this imbalance by presenting Joseph for what he really was: husband of Mary and father of Jesus. Joseph was husband and father in a real, if not in a biological, sense. This understanding is brought out in the preface of the Mass of St Joseph, which we celebrate today:
With a husband's love he cherished Mary, the virgin Mother of God.
With fatherly care he watched over Jesus Christ your Son, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The word “husband” is generally understood today as a man that is bonded to a wife. Originally, however, the word simply meant “master/owner/caretaker of a house,” without a direct reference to a wife. Husband was a function, more than a relationship. Joseph was the husband in the Holy Family of Nazareth. He cared for and provided for the Holy Household. This was a responsibility which he carried out in a heroic manner. And so, as Christians, we can all look up to St Joseph as the ideal husband and father. Many qualities qualify Joseph to be a role model for a Christian husband and father.
Joseph was indeed an ideal husband. Today God’s Holy Family is the Church. No wonder St. Joseph is today invoked as patron of the universal church. Patron is another word for husband, understood as a function of watching over, caring for and protecting those that God has placed under one’s charge.
St. Joseph has an important message for all Christians, especially for men. For men who have been called by God to be husbands and fathers, do we try to exercise our spousal and fatherly responsibility in the family with diligence as Joseph did? For those who have been called in any capacity to be spiritual fathers of the people of God, do we care for and nourish the family that God has entrusted into our care or do we do our ministry like business-as-usual? Through the example and prayers of St Joseph, may we have the patience, courage, wisdom and strength to be ideal caregivers and providers for the families, natural and spiritual, that God has placed in our charge.