First reading Jeremiah 23:5-8
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
"The LORD our justice."
Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD,
when they shall no longer say, "As the LORD lives,
who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt";
but rather, "As the LORD lives,
who brought the descendants of the house of Israel
up from the land of the north"–
and from all the lands to which I banished them;
they shall again live on their own land.
Psalm Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Gospel Matthew 1:18-25
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
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."
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.
Owning the Problem
By Carlo Alexis R. Malaluan
Now let us enter the humble abode of St. Joseph silently and contemplatively. Let us approach the person whom the Evangelist called a "just man" (Matthew 1:19) in his peaceful slumber as the angel of the Lord communicate to him the divine plan of salvation. In this silence, I invite you my friends, to contemplate with me this momentous event in the life of the humble worker exalted by the Lord to form the Most Holy Redeemer.
Amidst the noise of confusion, there is a space for silent meditation in which God speaks to us. This is what St. Joseph did. We know the story. Joseph was betrothed to Our Lady only to find out that she is carrying the Blessed Fruit, Jesus, in her womb. This caused so much distress and confusion in the humble heart of Joseph. Let us contemplate how he heard inner voices condemning the Blessed Mother and shaming her and the Child she bears. This caused so much pain and fear to St. Joseph. He cannot let this happen.
But what happened is the most beautiful thing of all. He might have resorted to anger and violence for misunderstanding this as Our Lady's unfaithfulness to him. He might have resorted to leaving her and the Child Jesus and taking all the guilt with him. Nevertheless, Joseph, human like us, resorted to contemplation and prayer - seeking the Divine for answer to his questions, for the light amidst confusion. He knew that his humanity cannot fully understand what is happening, so he offered everything to the Lord.
Then, in his peaceful slumber came the angel of the Lord giving him peace in his heart: Do not be afraid! His sorrow was replaced with joy! He knew that God has a plan. And he is invited to participate in this salvific plan. He, recognizing his smallness and the greatness of the responsibility expected from him, could easily say no. He could've said, “No Lord! That is too much!”. But when he woke up, he immediately obeyed what the angel has said. He didn't compromise. He didn't ask. He didn't complain. He just did what the angel told him to do so. This, my friends, is the gift of perfect manhood.
In the modern society, there are so many absentee fathers, run-away fathers, irresponsible fathers, and so on. Maybe all of us knew one or even in ourselves knew that we are one. St. Joseph teaches all of us, most especially men, to "man-up" and take the responsibility God has given to us. Imagine, Jesus is not a biological offspring of Joseph, but Joseph became a father to Our Lord. He did not run away from the responsibility rather he embraced it as his own. He did not abandon Our Lady after knowing what happened. Instead, he loved her and served her with all his heart. He remained on her side always mindful that this is what God asks of him. His humanity didn’t hinder him to see the plan of God. His confusions and fear didn't hinder him from responding to this mission.
As the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons begins, let us also remember our priests and those who are in the religious life as they offer their whole self, like St. Joseph, to the interests of the Divine Saviour. Their lives are never easy. To follow God and His plan is not a joke. It entails so much suffering, sacrifice, and self-abandonment. They too could experience so many moments of solitude and confusion. They too could experience the same fear Joseph experienced. But in their prayer and contemplation, God communicates with them the real essence of their mission and console them with the words: Do not be afraid.
Friends, let us pray to God that like St. Joseph, we may be able to "man-up" our vocation and mission.
Eternal Father, who called us from mere and unsightly stones to become Your servants, grant us the grace and gift of maturity and perfect obedience to Your will. Do not forsake us, especially our clergy and consecrated persons, so that we may be able to hear Your voice in times of fear and confusion. Grant us the same grace You bestowed upon St. Joseph that we may be able to respond and carry out Your Divine Will in the ways we can, know, and do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
(Carlo, or Caloy as his friends fondly call him, is currently taking up Bachelor of Science Psychology in Cavite State University. He currently serves at Saint Augustine Parish in Mendez as a Lector and Parish Youth Minister. He also shares his knowledge as a part of formation for Lectors and Altar Servers.)