Homily on the Feast of St Joseph
19th March 2021
by Dom Prior Gregory Corcoran
Nathan’s prophecy to David is a very wonderful one, fulfilled in Our Lord, the great offspring of David’s house, who is also the prophet like Moses foretold in Deuteronomy and the eternal priest of the psalm, first glimpsed in Genesis in the priest king of Salem. Nathan’s prophecy finds fulfilment at the same time as the prophecy of Isaiah to Ahaz, in the Virgin motherhood of Our Blessed Lady.
Joseph was privileged to be instructed in this wonder in the first of his four dreams. What must have been his joy when it was revealed to him that his plan to bow out of his commitment to Mary was not God’s plan. Rather, by assuming the role of Father to the Holy Child he was to serve the person and mission of the Son of God, having first become the protector of the good name of the Mother of God.
There is later prophecy of Nathan to David, to David the sinner, a chilling prophecy which would surely have haunted Joseph: ‘Since you have utterly despised God, the sword shall never depart from your house’. With Herod the Great on the throne in Jerusalem it was clear who held the sword: a man ever eager to use it, especially to protect his power, a man who would not fail in his design as Athaliah had. This was the setting in which Joseph guarded the life of the Holy Child. The moment he had the dream of warning he set off with Mary and Jesus by night. He accepted exile, rather as his great namesake had done, as the price of survival. We see Joseph as a self-effacing yet courageous man, as well as being the just man commended by the sacred text.
In the life of Saint Joseph there are many lessons for us to learn and examples for us to follow. His life was determined by the unexpected vocation to be the Guardian of Our Incarnate Lord and his Blessed Mother. He was ready to abandon his own plans. He showed great fortitude in following the warnings of his dreams, and so preserved the life of the Holy Child. The fact that no word of his is recorded suggests to us someone who was confident of God’s help in whatever he was called upon to do, that is to say someone who loved God with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength.