Jules Does

Jules Does Lent: Fathers and Sons

Posted on: March 19, 2016

Hahaha ok so it turns out I suck at doing this!

Seriously though, my apologies. I wanted this to be more or less a daily thing, but then I didn’t prioritise it and, well, it kind of fell away. Sorry. Holy Week is upon us (starting tomorrow with Palm Sunday), so the end of Lent is very much in sight. I hope some of this series has been helpful for you; I know that using this blog to think through some of the readings has made me take them much more seriously, so I’m grateful for that. Maybe I’ll do it again next year if I can.

But on to today’s readings. Today is a little unusual, since the readings we have are for the Feast of St Joseph, the foster father of Christ, rather than readings chosen particularly for Lent. But (of course) the readings still point beyond themselves to larger ideas about God’s kingship, providence and especially His fatherhood. I don’t promise I’ll do a good job here, as I’m very tired, but I’ll just put down some of the things rattling around in my head.

It is because of Joseph that Jesus can be called Son of David, which was one of the titles for the Messiah promised in the Old Testament – Mary herself was not descended from the famous Old Testament king, but Joseph was, and by marrying Mary and raising Jesus as his son, St Joseph included Christ in his lineage and thereby fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, prophecies like the one in the first reading. Although the passage refers more obviously to King David’s son and successor Solomon, who built the first Temple in Jerusalem, Christians view this passage as referring to Christ in His position as Son of God and Son of Man/Son of David. Indeed, the Christian interpretation would note that the reign of David’s descendants on the throne of Israel absolutely did not last forever, as this passage promised it would, so it must be referring to something else, namely the eternal kingship of Christ.

The second reading goes on to tell us that, through the sacrifice of Christ, who was descended from Abraham, we have all been made descendants of Abraham and have thereby fulfilled God’s promise to him (made way back in Genesis) that He would make his descendants as numerous as the stars (phew, thanks for sticking with me through all of those pronouns). It is because of this adoption that non-Jews like me can claim to be heirs to the promise that God made not only to Abraham but to all those who came after him, like Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and the rest.

So, just to refresh our memories, there have been two adoptions thus far: God adopting David’s descendants and us being adopted as Abraham’s descendants. The third reading kind of turns that trend around; instead of God adopting us, mankind (as represented by Joseph) adopts God.

There are two possible Gospel readings for today. In the first, Joseph obeys the command of the angel of God and marries Mary, despite the fact that she is mysteriously pregnant. In Catholic tradition, it is understood that Joseph, although not free from Original Sin, led a sinless life. How can we tell? Fun fact: Joseph has no lines in the Bible! All we know of him are his actions, every one of which involves looking after Mary and the child Jesus, whether that’s bringing them to Bethlehem, taking them away to Egypt, looking after them in Nazareth or helping Mary look for Christ when He goes missing in the second of the two possible readings for today. It is this singular devotion to caring for Our Lord and His mother that shows us Joseph’s saintliness.

But, lest we get too caught up in our St Joseph fan club, Christ reminds us in the second possible reading that, more than anyone here on Earth, God is the Father of all of us. Despite the fact that Mary refers to Joseph as “your father”, Christ points out that He had been busy with the business of His true Father, the Father with a capital F who adopted Abraham and David and who, through the sacrifice of Christ, would adopt us all into one huge family in heaven.

Apologies if any of this is murky, but the bottom line is that, somewhere in the tangle of fathers and Fathers and adoption and losing and finding and death and life, we find that we’ve all been bound up together as brothers and sisters through several wondrous choices, especially the choice of a wordless man in Israel to adopt a child who wasn’t his own and to bring Him safely to adulthood so that He could fulfil God’s plan to adopt all of humankind.



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