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Sunday of the Fourth Week of Advent | Rosemary Wallace

Antiphon:  O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:

Come and save man, 

Whom you formed from the dust!

In the Gospel of Matthew, Saint Joseph is described as a righteous man who was unwilling to publicly denounce Mary, his betrothed, when he found out that she was with child.  He decided to divorce her quietly.  This is a great example of forbearance.  Joseph decided to act more gently than custom allowed and withhold harsh judgment. His decision would protect Mary from shame and harm.    

Perhaps God’s grace rains down in the openings made by forbearance, mercy and withholding judgment.  Joseph had a dream in which an angel appeared and told him just exactly Who had conceived the child – the Holy Spirit.  Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary into his home. His life opened up, and he became the earthly father of Jesus and the spouse of the Mother of God.   

Paintings and statues depicting St. Joseph often show him holding a flowering staff or branch.  The story of the flowering branch comes from the apocryphal (non-canonical) literature.  In order to find a suitable spouse for Mary, priests instructed unmarried men of the House of David to bring branches to the temple and lay them on the altar.  The branch brought to the temple by the 90 year old Joseph bloomed into flowers.  With this sign, Joseph became the man chosen for Mary.  

St. Joseph is the Protector of the Church, Patron Saint of Workers, of a Happy Death, and of the Interior Life.  In the legend of the flowering branch, perhaps he is also the patron of blooming later in life.  

PRAYER: Dear St. Joseph, help us to be more like you and show mercy and forbearance to those we love.  Help us to bloom. Help us to work in the spirit of thanksgiving and joy. Thank you for the example of safeguarding all that is holy.  Amen.

By Rosemary Wallace