March 19, 2018
by Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Creighton University's Spiritual Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 543

2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

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Lent Prayer for Today

The Fifth Week of Lent - 18 min. - Text Transcript

Praying the Gospels of Weeks 3, 4, 5
Understanding the Scrutinies


We have all seen paintings and sculptures of St. Joseph that, at least to me, look too bland and sweet to represent the real Joseph. There is nothing bland in the Joseph portrayed in the first of the two options for today’s gospel reading, a man torn inside by real tension and anguish. Because tension also affected Mary, albeit in a different way, I want to reflect on both tensions.

Joseph’s tension is more obvious from the gospel reading. Mary, his fiancĂ©e, has been away for a few months in the hill country of Judea and on her return it is clear to Joseph that she is pregnant. He knows all too well that the child is not his and he also knows very well that Mary is not “that kind of girl”. What has happened? Did someone assault her out there in the hill country? Deep anguish for a fiancĂ©. He loves Mary and he knows that, if he says that he is not the father of that child, Mary could be stoned. So, he decides to fade away and be the “fall guy”. And then comes the dream. And he trusts the dream.

Mary’s tension is different. She knew well what had taken place in her, but she did not feel at liberty to explain either to Joseph or to her parents, who must also have been going through their own anguish. To know and not to be free to tell is very difficult. Confidentiality can put us in difficult positions, especially when our own reputation is at stake. Yet Mary did not say anything. She trusted and waited.

We find it disconcerting that all this is the result of God’s having entered their lives. We expect closeness to God to be a “rosy” experience. We need to check our expectations and trust God’s presence in our lives, even when it causes some human discomfort. It is this kind of trust that helped Joseph and Mary to move from not understanding to not needing to understand.

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