Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the Middle of Lent
This week is bracketed by the Feast of St. Joseph, the Son of David (19 March) and the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord (25 March). The observance of St. Joseph’s Day is relatively new, especially among us, whereas the Annunciation is one of the most ancient of Church festivals, but both of these occasions are of salutary benefit. They may catch us a bit off guard, coming as they do in the middle of Lent, but that “coincidence” is actually right on target. It is in the very midst of sin and death that our Lord comes striding in to rescue us from the devil’s grasp, to redeem us from our bondage and bring us in Peace into the Kingdom of His God and Father.
As Advent and Christmas already point us in various ways to the Cross and Passion of Our Lord, so do the festivals of St. Joseph and the Annunciation point us to the Incarnation and the earthly life of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, whereby He accomplishes our great salvation. By the Word of God spoken to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, the almighty and eternal Son of the Living God has become forevermore flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood, in order that we might inherit divine sonship and enter into divine, eternal Life in and with Him. What is more, having become true Man by His conception and birth of St. Mary, He has taken upon Himself and borne in His Body the full burden of the Fall and all its consequences, in order to atone for all our sins, conquer death and the grave, and tread Satan beneath His wounded feet.
Though not the biological father of our Lord, St. Joseph did indeed become His earthly father, caring for Jesus and His Mother, providing for their needs within his vocation and station in life, and teaching the little Lord Jesus all those things that dads are given to teach their sons. These are truly remarkable mysteries, going hand-in-hand with the fact that the very Son of God grew and “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In this respect, St. Joseph is a beautiful example, not only for human fathers in caring for their families, but likewise for all of us pastors, as we are given to care for the household and family of God.