All people have a lineage. We are the descendants of our ancestors;
those of our family who have lived before us. Most of us know or
have known our parents. Many of us have also known our grandparents.
But relatively few of us know much about our more distant ancestors.
Some people are very interested in their ancestry and spend considerable
time in constructing a family tree. But many of us do not do this.
For the people of Israel, genealogy was very important. It was important
because it allowed them to trace the descendants of the patriarch
Abraham in a direct line to Jesus, the Messiah. From the time of
the Covenant that God made with Abraham, they very carefully listed
all of the descendants of Abraham as God fulfilled the Covenant
that he had made.
St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrate today, was the last of the
descendants of Abraham and the foster father of Jesus. Joseph was
a direct descendant of both Abraham and King David. At the very
beginning of St. Matthew's gospel and immediately preceding today's
gospel reading, we find the list of the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew
tells us that there were 42 generations between the time of Abraham
and Jesus. St. Joseph was fortunate enough to have his family tree
made for him because it was so important to the people of Israel.
In today's first scripture reading we hear that the house and kingdom
of David will stand firm forever. This is a confirmation of God's
covenant with the Israelites. And Matthew quotes the angel as calling
Joseph the son of David. This is a further confirmation of God's
keeping his covenant with his people.
Joseph is extolled by Matthew as a righteous man. There is much
about the life of St. Joseph that we do not know. Many of us, and
I am one, would like to know more of the details of the life of
this extraordinary man. However, I think we must never lose sight
of the fact that we do know what was most important about St. Joseph.
Namely, we know that he was the husband of Mary and the foster father
of Jesus. During his life as Mary's husband he was their constant
Today we read how this all came about and how Joseph took Mary as
his wife. He is favored with the tremendous privilege of a message
from God brought to him by an angel in a dream. Joseph hears and
immediately obeys the will of God. His whole subsequent married
life is to be marked by fidelity to the will of God. Again and again
he will do the will of God in taking care of Jesus and Mary. As
I read today's readings and ponder the life of St. Joseph, I come
to a deeper realization of just how important a part he played in
the life of Jesus and in the work of our redemption. As we prepare
for Holy Week, St. Joseph can be our guide to Jesus and Mary.