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Share on social, email, and other apps. Enjoy a book every month, delivered in free daily chapters directly to your device. Reviews Review Policy. View details. Flag as inappropriate. Phil which Christ freely accepted for the forgiveness of sins. Joseph also witnessed the adoration of the shepherds who arrived at Jesus' birthplace after the angel had brought them the great and happy news cf.

Lk Later he also witnessed the homage of the magi who came from the East cf. A son's circumcision was the first religious obligation of a father, and with this ceremony cf. Lk Joseph exercised his right and duty with regard to Jesus. The principle which holds that all the rites of the Old Testament are a shadow of the reality cf. Heb f; serves to explain why Jesus would accept them.

As with all the other rites, circumcision too is "fulfilled" in Jesus.


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God's covenant with Abraham, of which circumcision was the sign cf. Gn , reaches its full effect and perfect realization in Jesus, who is the "yes" of all the ancient promises cf. At the circumcision Joseph names the child "Jesus. Acts Its significance had been revealed to Joseph at the moment of his "annunciation": "You shall call the child Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" cf. In conferring the name, Joseph declares his own legal fatherhood over Jesus, and in speaking the name he proclaims the child's mission as Savior.

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This rite, to which Luke refers ff. The ransoming of the first-born is another obligation of the father, and it is fulfilled by Joseph. Represented in the first-born is the people of the covenant, ransomed from slavery in order to belong to God. Here too, Jesus - who is the true "price" of ransom cf. The gospel writer notes that "his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him" Lk , in particular at what Simeon said in his canticle to God, when he referred to Jesus as the "salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel" and as a "sign that is spoken against" cf.

After the presentation in the Temple the Evangelist Luke notes: "And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him" Lk But according to Matthew's text, a very important event took place before the return to Galilee, an event in which divine providence once again had recourse to Joseph.

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We read: "Now when [the magi] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him'" Mt Herod learned from the magi who came from the East about the birth of the "king of the Jews" Mt And when the magi departed, he "sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under" Mt By killing them all, he wished to kill the new-born "king of the Jews" whom he had heard about.

And so, Joseph, having been warned in a dream, "took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son' " Mt ; cf. Hos And so Jesus' way back to Nazareth from Bethlehem passed through Egypt.

Just as Israel had followed the path of the exodus "from the condition of slavery" in order to begin the Old Covenant, so Joseph, guardian and cooperator in the providential mystery of God, even in exile watched over the one who brings about the New Covenant. From the time of the Annunciation, both Joseph and Mary found themselves, in a certain sense, at the heart of the mystery hidden for ages in the mind of God, a mystery which had taken on flesh: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" Jn He dwelt among men, within the surroundings of the Holy Family of Nazareth-one of many families in this small town in Galilee, one of the many families of the land of Israel.

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There Jesus "grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him" Lk The Gospels summarize in a few words the long period of the "hidden" life, during which Jesus prepared himself for his messianic mission. Only one episode from this "hidden time" is described in the Gospel of Luke: the Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old.

Together with Mary and Joseph, Jesus took part in the feast as a young pilgrim. His parents did not know it" Lk After a day's journey, they noticed his absence and began to search "among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. Mary asked: "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously" Lk The answer Jesus gave was such that "they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house? Joseph, of whom Mary had just used the words "your father," heard this answer.

That, after all, is what all the people said and thought: Jesus was the son as was supposed or Joseph" Lk Nonetheless, the reply of Jesus in the Temple brought once again to the mind of his "presumed father" what he had heard on that night twelve years earlier: "Joseph The growth of Jesus "in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" Lk took place within the Holy Family under the eyes of Joseph, who had the important task of "raising" Jesus, that is, feeding, clothing and educating him in the Law and in a trade, in keeping with the duties of a father.

Joseph, 29 because "he fed him whom the faithful must eat as the bread of eternal life.

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For his part, Jesus "was obedient to them" Lk , respectfully returning the affection of his "parents. In the course of that pilgrimage of faith which was his life, Joseph, like Mary, remained faithful to God's call until the end. While Mary's life was the bringing to fullness of that fiat first spoken at the Annunciation, at the moment of Joseph's own "annunciation" he said nothing; instead he simply "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him" Mt And this first "doing" became the beginning of "Joseph's way. But the silence of Joseph has its own special eloquence, for thanks to that silence we can understand the truth of the Gospel's judgment that he was "a just man" Mt One must come to understand this truth, for it contains one of the most important testimonies concerning man and his vocation.

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Through many generations the Church has read this testimony with ever greater attention and with deeper understanding, drawing, as it were, "what is new and what is old" Mt from the storehouse of the noble figure of Joseph. Above all, the "just" man of Nazareth possesses the clear characteristics of a husband. Luke refers to Mary as "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph" Lk Even before the "mystery hidden for ages" Eph began to be fulfilled, the Gospels set before us the image of husband and wife. According to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal, or true marriage was celebrated, and then, only after a certain period of time, the husband brought the wife into his own house.

Thus, before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her "husband. One may well ask how this desire of Mary's could be reconciled with a "wedding. From the moment of the Annunciation, Mary knew that she was to fulfill her virginal desire to give herself exclusively and fully to God precisely by becoming the Mother of God's Son.

Becoming a Mother by the power of the Holy Spirit was the form taken by her gift of self: a form which God himself expected of the Virgin Mary, who was "betrothed" to Joseph. Mary uttered her fiat. The fact that Mary was "betrothed" to Joseph was part of the very plan of God. This is pointed out by Luke and especially by Matthew. The words spoken to Joseph are very significant: "Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" Mt These words explain the mystery of Joseph's wife: In her motherhood Mary is a virgin.

Addressing Joseph through the words of the angel, God speaks to him as the husband of the Virgin of Nazareth. What took place in her through the power of the Holy Spirit also confirmed in a special way the marriage bond which already existed between Joseph and Mary. God's messenger was clear in what he said to Joseph: "Do not fear to take Mary your wife into your home. In her divine motherhood Mary had to continue to live as "a virgin, the wife of her husband" cf.

In the words of the "annunciation" by night, Joseph not only heard the divine truth concerning his wife's indescribable vocation; he also heard once again the truth about his own vocation. This "just" man, who, in the spirit of the noblest traditions of the Chosen People, loved the Virgin of Nazareth and was bound to her by a husband's love, was once again called by God to this love. Are we not to think that the love of God which has been poured forth into the human heart through the Holy Spirit cf. Rm molds every human love to perfection? This love of God also molds-in a completely unique way-the love of husband and wife, deepening within it everything of human worth and beauty, everything that bespeaks an exclusive gift of self, a covenant between persons, and an authentic communion according to the model of the Blessed Trinity.

These words indicate another kind of closeness in marriage. The deep spiritual closeness arising from marital union and the interpersonal contact between man and woman have their definitive origin in the Spirit, the Giver of Life cf. Jn Joseph, in obedience to the Spirit, found in the Spirit the source of love, the conjugal love which he experienced as a man.

And this love proved to be greater than this "just man" could ever have expected within the limits of his human heart. In the Liturgy, Mary is celebrated as "united to Joseph, the just man, by a bond of marital and virginal love. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with his people.

Through his complete self-sacrifice, Joseph expressed his generous love for the Mother of God, and gave her a husband's "gift of self. On the other hand, it was from his marriage to Mary that Joseph derived his singular dignity and his rights in regard to Jesus.

Since marriage is the highest degree of association and friendship involving by its very nature a communion of goods, it follows that God, by giving Joseph to the Virgin, did not give him to her only as a companion for life, a witness of her virginity and protector of her honor: he also gave Joseph to Mary in order that he might share, through the marriage pact, in her own sublime greatness.