Lent 2023


Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Great Leaps of Faith


So who is this Joseph who we never hear speaking in the gospels? You could say about Joseph, silence speaks volumes. In the gospel reading of today’s feast, Joseph has learned that Mary is pregnant and he clearly knew that he was not the father of this child. This must have been a time of tremendous stress and anxiety for both Joseph and Mary. Imagine the conversation they were having about the pregnancy! Mary knew her story sounded outlandish and she must have thought that she would be cast aside by Joseph. She must have been overwhelmed and frightened by this situation, and Joseph, in hearing her story, most likely was overcome with anxiety. He didn’t want to disgrace Mary and she might even be stoned to death to be with child without a husband.

Although both Mary and Joseph were good people who knew the love of God, how could they cope with this situation? Have you ever been in a situation where you just can’t see your way out? Don’t know where to turn or what to do?

The angel’s message to Joseph came at a time of deep distress and fear. “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. It is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Perhaps Joseph thought he was losing his mind, but somewhere within him he had the depth of faith that allowed him to trust in God. He must have believed that God would guide and grace him, even though this path was far beyond human understanding. God was the One who brought Mary and Joseph to this moment and Joseph began to trust that God would be with Mary and him on their journey into this unknown. Few people would trust and accept such a strange situation, but Joseph hands over his life, his love, his tenderness and care, to protect Mary and soon Jesus. He gave them all of himself without reserve. He trusted that God was guiding his steps in safeguarding Mary and the earthly life of Jesus.

I adored my Polish grandfather who was also a very quiet man. When my grandmother died, I learned for the first time that she had come to this country pregnant and had been cast out of her home in Poland. The father of her child was to follow her but he never came. In the totally Polish neighborhood in America where my grandmother lived with relatives, they found my grandfather, who was willing to marry my grandmother, to adopt her child, and to give his total devotion and love to my grandmother and the child. They were married for sixty years and had four more children together. My grandfather, along with Joseph, accepted a lofty vocation and was for all those years my grandmother’s protector and stood by his family with tenderness and care. He too stood in the grace of God! He too took a great leap of faith. Are we sometimes asked to take these great leaps of faith for others?

We all have times of great struggle when we are anxious, confused, angry or saddened…when we don’t know where to turn. When these times come, we might call on Joseph and Mary and ask them to share their love, faith and trust in God, who loves us all deeply and sometimes asks of us what we might think is impossible. While we might not always understand what is happening in our lives, we pray that God is with us! When problems seem heavy and impenetrable, God is watching to help, even in the most unexpected circumstances. Be still to hear the voice of God however it comes, and courageous enough to act on it. Dear God, give help and guidance to those who hear you and trust in you.

Bernadette DiGiulian '83 M.Div.

Bernie is a member of the STM Community.