Today's Gospel in Art - Joseph, being a man of honour

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Photo Courtesy Vatican News

Photo Courtesy Vatican News

Gospel of 19th March 2020 - Matthew 1:16,18-21,24

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.' When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.

Reflection on Photograph

I recently came across this lovely photograph of Pope Francis at his desk. What struck me is that the only sculpture he has on his desk is that of Saint Joseph who we are celebrating today. As you can see, a small statue is there with Joseph holding a hammer in one hand, and Jesus in the other. He is also wearing a carpenter's apron. I don't know who sculpted it, but it is a sweet little sculpture. Saint Joseph is described in our Gospel reading as a discreet but determined man, virtues that Pope Francis values.

On 19th March 2013, in a homily he gave during the Mass inaugurating his Petrine ministry, Pope Francis said that 'Joseph is a "protector" because he is able to hear God's voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the people entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God's call, readily and willingly.'

Joseph must have realised that he too had a special part to play in the history of Salvation. He obeyed without hesitation, and with joy. Joseph let go of his own plans and put himself entirely at the service of Jesus and Mary. No spoken word of his is mentioned in the Gospels… only mention of him being a kind, hard working, just and generous man…

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Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Joseph

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