St Joseph’s and Our Lady’s Annunciation
This coming week we will celebrate two great Solemnities. Tomorrow (Monday) is the Solemnity of St Joseph and the entire month of March is dedicated to him. Then on Saturday we celebrate our Patronal Feast, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The full title of this parish is St Mary of the Annunciation. With the exception of Our Lady, there is no saint greater than St Joseph. He was chosen by God to be the Head of the Holy Family, the most chaste spouse of the Mother of God and the foster-father of Our Lord JESUS Christ. The God-man Who created everything out of nothing was obedient to him, as was Our Lady, the greatest and holiest of all God’s creatures.
The Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and asked her to agree to God’s plan and become the Mother of His Divine Son, and she said, “yes”. At that instant she miraculously conceived JESUS in her womb. This was Our Lady’s Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). But St Joseph also had an annunciation, when an angel appeared to him in a dream, and asked him to consent to being the foster-father of JESUS and the husband of Mary. He likewise consented because he then knew it to be the Will of God, and Joseph always responded immediately to what God asked of him (Matthew 1:18-21).
However, St Joseph also had a trial. Sometimes people question his obedience because he considered divorcing Mary when he discovered her to be with child. But this was because at the time he didn’t understand what was going on and he was left in the dark until his own annunciation. Our Lady, however, was immaculately conceived without the stain of Original Sin and she remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Our Lord, but at the time, Joseph didn’t know that. The Child in her womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and Mary had made a vow of perpetual virginity and “knew not man” (Luke 1:34-35). So Joseph simply had to wait on God and trust in Him. God doesn’t always reveal everything to us immediately, but Joseph would never have taken Mary to be his wife and looked after her Child if he did not know this to be God’s Will. He had to be certain of that first. But once the angel had given him God’s message, he accepted immediately.
God timed these events perfectly. Mary and Joseph were betrothed, which means they were already legally married, although not yet living together. But during this time the husband would prepare the home in which they would live. So for Mary to conceive JESUS at this time was perfect, and so was Joseph’s annunciation. The fact that Joseph was considering divorcing Mary makes it absolutely clear he was not involved in the conception. So maybe Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary was necessary before God revealed to him the manner of JESUS’ conception. If Our Lord had been conceived after Mary and Joseph were living together, sceptics would have rejected the idea of Mary’s virginal conception. And if He had been conceived before the betrothal, it would have been outside of marriage. But when Our Lord was conceived, Mary and Joseph were already legally married but not yet living together, and so the timing was perfect.
St Joseph submitted perfectly to God’s plan, even though the situation was mysterious and obscure. There can also be mysteries in our lives. As Scripture often tells us, God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Let us ask St Joseph to help us when we’re faced with obscurities and mysteries, and as Head of the Holy Family, may he watch over all families on earth, especially our own.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC