Joseph and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple

Joseph and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple

And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:50) In this last Sunday devotion to St. Joseph and the last time that we hear of St. Joseph in sacred Scripture, we locate him finding Jesus in the temple. Joseph and Mary find their son, after three days of heart-wrenching searching, in the temple. When they find Jesus, he is teaching of the Father.

This last devotion happens to fall on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. We have journeyed in this holy season of grace searching to find Jesus in a more personal way, to be closer to Him and to listen to Him speak to our hearts of the Father. In the temptation story in the gospel , we hear Jesus state to Satan: “It is written: the Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” (Mt 4:11) Jesus faithfully, continually, constantly points to the Father. Jesus is the way by which we come to know the Father whom we desire to worship and serve.

St. Joseph shows us that we need to continue searching until we find Jesus. We don’t know the agony St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother experienced in their three days of searching for the child of God that had been given to their care. We have in them examples of prayerful perseverance and sustaining hope that can encourage us in our journey of faith.

O faithful spouse of Mary, Mother of God, we ask your intercession in this time of discernment that we may be filled with perseverance in our prayer, worship, Lenten practices and seeking of Jesus. By your example, St. Joseph, may we come to know that fidelity and humble obedience to the Father’s will are ways of living with Jesus Christ. St. Joseph, you have led us through this holy season of Lent; be our constant companion, encouraging us by your courageous willingness to do whatever the Father asked of you.

Pray for us, blessed St. Joseph,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
In your infinite wisdom and love
you chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven,
particularly as we discern our chosen-ness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Note: On March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, we will join billions throughout the world in celebration of the installation Mass of the Holy Father Pope Francis. The fatherhood of St. Joseph and of Pope Francis is food for meditation on this day. As St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis is the earthly father of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Both men are chosen by God to be fathers; one the father of His Son, Jesus who is Truth; and the other, the father of His Church which is the “pillar and bulwark of truth.” (1Tim 3:15) Thanks be to God for His love and mercy that provides for us such a mystery of salvation.

Joseph and Jesus, a Father's care

Joseph and Jesus, a Father’s care

We can imagine St. Joseph’s joy when hearing of Herod’s death. Now they can return home to family and friends. They can root their family life in the Jewish tradition and establish a stable trade. They can have a normal family life. Dutifully, he takes the child Jesus and Mary to the land of Israel. But this is not to be their home; fearing Archelaus, Herod’s son, St. Joseph listens to the guidance of an angel and they move again. This time to Nazareth in the district of Galilee. Finally, their wandering ends. Here the child Jesus grows in strength and wisdom as he learns the carpenter’s trade.

Over and over, St. Joseph obediently moves his family – protecting and caring for them – fully accepting his responsibility as spouse and father. How many times he must have knelt in prayer; beseeching the Father’s help and pleading for a permanent, safe home. Maybe by St. Joseph’s example, Jesus learned to seek a place of solitude for prayer. Psalm 31, which we sang in today’s celebration of the Holy Mass, may have been a psalm St. Joseph prayed often:

In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, incline your ear to me, make haste to deliver me.
Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord. Ps 31: 2-3, 3-4, 17, 25

Are we in constant prayer with God? To know the Father’s will, we have to be in dialogue. Jesus Christ shows us by his life that we need to pray. It was part of his life to seek solitude for prayer, to pray constantly, and to lead his disciples to prayer. Let us pray for each other as we discern how to live out our love of Christ and respond to the Father’s will.

O glorious St. Joseph, how you must have marveled at the child Jesus learning to pray by your side. You show us the necessity for constant prayer and the grace that is given for each part of our journey of faith in love. Following your example of obedience and trust, may we freely and generously go where the Father’s will calls us.

Pray for us, blessed St. Joseph,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
In your infinite wisdom and love
you chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven,
particularly as we discern our chosen-ness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.