40 Shades of Lent, Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16//Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22//Matthew 1:16, 18-24
How was your sleep last night? And what did you dream about?
Too often, our dreams make our sleep more wonderful and meaningful no matter what we have dreamt. Our dreams are the means in uncovering the impulses and feelings suppressed in our waking state that reveal our unconscious state. And the kind of dreams we experience depend on the kind of waking stage we have. Some say that disturbing, recurring dreams reveal some problems within while wholesome dreams generally indicate everything is most likely going fine with your life. This we find very true in our celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.
St. Joseph is the most silent person in the bible without any words uttered ascribed to him. In his silence, he was so filled with God and that is why he is considered holy or “just” and “righteous” according to Matthew. Most of all, St. Joseph has the most enviable distinction of always sleeping soundly while in the midst of serious problems with great dreams where angels delivered him with messages from God – not once or twice but thrice!
Contrary to common beliefs, St. Joseph was able to sleep soundly in the midst of great problem after learning Mary was pregnant with a child because right away, he faced and confronted it with a decision. Being a just or holy man, he had decided to silently divorce Mary so as not to subject her to public humiliation. It must have been a very difficult choice for St. Joseph to make because he loved Mary so much which was also an expression of his great love for God. The love of God was the sole basis of his decision that put him into peaceful sleep.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.Matthew 1:20-21, 24
For St. Joseph to dream of receiving messages from God like in our gospel today shows his deep and profound disposition for God and His will. He made the right decision of silently leaving Mary behind to go on with her pregnancy because he loved her so much. When the angel revealed to him the reason behind Mary’s virginal conception through the Holy Spirit, his decision was perfected as he found himself an essential link, a connector, in the the plan of God! Being from the lineage of King David, he saw the important connection with him to marry the Blessed Virgin Mary so that her Son Jesus Christ would thus become the fulfillment of God’s promise through the Prophet Nathan.
“When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm… Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”2 Samuel 7:12, 16
So often, the very reason why we cannot sleep when we are beset with a problem is our failure or refusal to make a decision. It is not the problem that keeps us awake but our inaction and indecision. St. Joseph shows us the healthy link and connection of one’s self with God and with reality, with the present and the future. Just like the other great patriarchs in the Old Testament that included Abraham (second reading) and Jacob, they all received messages from God in a dream along with Peter in the Acts of the Apostles where they saw the interconnection of everything and especially of one’s self in God. Break away from this connection, sin and disorder happen.
Likewise, we also see how in the development of devotions to St. Joseph through history where he has always been linked or connected with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Compared with Marian devotions and other saints, veneration of St. Joseph started very late in the Church. One is the obvious reason that Mary is the Mother of God. The earliest record celebrating this March 19 feast of St. Joseph as Husband of Mary dates back to the year 800 that also indicates how devotion to him has always been linked with the veneration of the the Blessed Virgin. Devotions to St. Joseph spread later in the 12th century when the crusaders built a church in his honor in Nazareth when the Christians soon realized the many links and connections in our lives that our Lord’s foster father pointed us to. In 1621, Pope Gregory XV made this feast an obligatory and 270 years later, Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph patron of the Universal Church. Devotion to St. Joseph gained a big push in 1962 when Pope St. John XXIII introduced his name into the Roman canon which Pope Francis emulated, making it to be officially followed in every Mass after he assumed the papacy in March 13, 2013.
This unique role of St. Joseph being the link with Christ’s Davidic ancestry as well as direct correlation and connection of his love for God and for Mary and eventually, for us all in naming her Son Jesus that means “God saves”, perfectly jibe with the motif of Lent we celebrate this month of March: our interconnectedness with God and with one another in Jesus Christ our Savior. St. Joseph teaches us the basic truth about holiness which literally means being “whole” where there is a direct link or connection with our waking stage and inner self expressed in our dreams during deep sleep.
Lastly, St. Joseph teaches us today in his dreams and decisions, in his life of silence and holiness what most people say about two kinds of dreamers: those who dream with eyes shut and those who dream with eyes wide opened. Those who dream with closed eyes are those who merely daydream and live in fantasies; those who dream with eyes wide opened are the visionaries, those who work to fulfill their dreams to make it a reality. St. Joseph belonged to that kind of dreamer, a visionary of God who strove hard with patience, protecting Mary and the child Jesus so that God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled. Amen.