Sisters and brothers, this week we commemorate Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and stepfather of Jesus. This holiday takes place during Lent, a time of fasting and traditionally this holiday is meatless. Saint Joseph plays an important role in the history of the Church since he was married to mother of our Saviour. His ancestor was David who was given the promise in the Old Testament that through his seed Messiah will come. Let us take a look at several sentences from 2nd Samuel, chapter 7: 4-5; 12-14, 16:
And it came to pass that night that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying:‘’ Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me a house for me to dwell in? And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places.
As we see the Lord calls David ‘my servant’. Likewise, Joseph was servant of God. And in the New Testament Joseph was also called to serve. We can understand some interesting comparison here. As David was called to build a house of God where God would dwell in – this was related to the material temple. The same way Joseph was called to be a loving and caring husband of the living house of God – Mother of Jesus. Holy Mary was a living house of God. It is written that our bodies are God’s temples. We all, sisters and brothers, are called to be like Mary and to let the Holy Spirit dwell in us, in our hearts. And we should also be like Joseph and be loving people toward our family, friends, and neighbors. What can we learn from Joseph? Was he suspicious? Oh, yes. Was he a judge? O, yes. He was questioning if Mary was honest. He was questioning her virginity. But he let God teach him. Now, is it good to judge our neighbors? Maybe we are all Joseph and maybe our neighbor who we judge may be a Mary? What would you do if you were Joseph? Would you trust your wife or life partner? These are some thoughts we should be thinking about while we pray on this day. Now, let us take a brief look at the New Testament. Romans, chapter 4: 13, 16/18, 22:
It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
What is mutual to Joseph and Abraham? After considering these quotes we may conclude that one trait was mutual to these two holy men. It is called righteousness. But what does this refer to? Biblical righteousness refers to our faith in God. We all live in the modern world when we are witnessing lot of injustice, pain, diseases, misfortune on daily basis. We tend to question if there is a god or what god is that god allowing all these things to be happening. But… do we wonder who God might be? Would we love him if there is no pain in the world? Would we trust him if there is no injustice or no suffering? Would we try to find his guilt in something else? Would we unfollow Him if God has an Instagram profile?
If God tells today (or posts on Facebook) that a 75-year-old lady from your neighbourhood will become mother and you know she used to try to have a baby in the time of her monthly period when she was 20 and 30 and 40, would you trust in that possibility? Would you trust in that God? If God uses social networks would you probably block him? I would. Unfortunately many of us would. And why is that? We lack of faith my dear sisters and brothers. We lack of faith in God. But you know who hadn’t done that – Abraham. And Joseph. And they were both called righteous. Let us learn to have faith like them. Next, I would like to take a minute of your time and take a quick look at Matthew, chapter 1/16;18-21
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.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.
As previously mentioned Joseph was faithful and righteous. But even to him. This was hard to believe. Even harder that it was hard to believe for Abraham about Sara’s pregnancy in her late age. But God, sent him the angel in his dream and these are the words that the angel told Joseph (Mattew 1/24):
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
We can learn from Joseph many things. How to be a caring and loving partner, father, family member. Joseph knew that Jesus was not his biological son. But he was a caring stepfather who loved Jesus. At that old time it was very difficult to accept child which was not one’s biological child. Today we also live in the world where we make differences to our own blood relatives, our own religion, our own nation, tradition. But Joseph teaches us, through his example that everything that belongs to God belongs to all of us. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God. But to Joseph his focus was to love and to serve God. The same way we should love all people regardless of their nationality, skin colour, biological parents, natural characteristic and orientation, regardless religious background they were raised in. Let us learn to love and trust God the same way as Saint Joseph did. In the end of this sermon I would like to take one more minute of your time to take a look together at the additional very important aspect of Joseph’s treatment to his family. And here we may learn or remember one additional important life lesson applicable to all of us. Luke, chapter 2/ 41-51:
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Now, let me tell you an interesting fact. Were Joseph and Mary a very religious couple who were every day praying in the temple and not having earthly fun at all? This is amazing thing we often do not think about. They were going to the festival. They were even so careless at the moment of festival euphoria that they lost their own kid, 12-year-old Jesus. Hey, the festival was over and Joseph and Mary got back home without noticing that Jesus was missing. What would you say if your Christian neighbours go to the party, go back home and you hear that they lost their child? And next three days they are wondering where their child is? The last option they think about is – the church? Would you say those are Christian parents? Maybe they lost their child at the party but they love Jesus, they are Christians? I don’t think so. See, there are two types of religious people. Those who are non-stop in the church and pray all the time, they don’t go to festivals or parties. They believe that being a Christian prohibits spending some nice time at the party.
But what about the Bible. What we can learn through this example is that – yes we can go to festivals or parties. Remember that in the old times festivals were similar as today’s open-air parties. The same that Holy Mary and Saint Joseph were doing. Just DON’T FORGET JESUS! Don’t go back home after the festival like Joseph and Mary did finding out: ‘Hey, where’s my Jesus?’ Another fun fact and at the same time an amazing fact were the places where this religious couple had been searching this 12-year-old Son. Did they go to the church, temple or holy places? No. They were visiting relatives and friends and not just one or two days but even tree days. Now, would we tend to judge a neglecting couple from our neighbourhood? I guess yes, we would. At least I would. But did God judge them? Yet mother of God is the most holy Lady in the world, the most respected one Saint Mary and her husband, Saint Joseph is the righteous holy man.
Dear sisters and brothers we are all called to be like Mary and Joseph. Not to be super-Christians. Just let us be like Mary and Joseph. We are not called not to go to the festivals, or parties. But we are called not to LOSE JESUS! Yet we can learn here where we can find Jesus. He may be and in our relatives’ house (if our relative is hungry or thirsty – there is Jesus in his house, trust me). If our friend is sick and needs help – yes, you found Jesus in your friend’s house. But also you can find him in the temple. What I would pray for you to understand today is that if you feel that you lost Jesus. Remember Mary, remember Joseph. Go to your relative, go to your friend, and go to your neighbour first and then go to the church. You may try to find him in the church building first, too. But don’t forget that he may dwell in the living people. Not just in the buildings made of stone. I pray that we all never lose Jesus and that we all may be like Mary and Joseph.