Tag Archives: infancy narratives

The Roots of the Messiah

17 Dec

December 17th marks a turning point in the Advent season. We are now unmistakably in the home stretch. As we heard at Mass last Sunday, “the Lord is near”–Christmas is just around the corner.

December 17th also marks the beginning of the “O Antiphons” in Evening Prayer, which draw on some biblical titles of our Lord and Messiah. Today’s “O Antiphon” theme is Wisdom: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, You govern all creation with Your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”

A more literal translation (since we’re into new translations, right?) might be: “O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.” Check out this chart giving the biblical roots for each of the O Antiphons.

On December 17th, the Gospel readings at Mass undergo a significant shift. Instead of hearing about John the Baptist, we are now delving into the infancy narratives from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Today we start at the beginning, with the genealogy of Jesus, the son of David, the son of Abraham, found in the opening verses of St. Matthew’s Gospel.

There is much more to this genealogy than meets the eye. Continue reading

St. Joseph’s Mother

26 Jul

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of Saints Joachim and Ann, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In discussing this feast at breakfast this morning, one of my children asked me the name of St. Joseph’s mother. What do we know about her?

Unfortunately, Scripture provides minimal information about St. Joseph. He first appears in the Infancy Narratives (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2) as the husband of Mary, and is mentioned in subsequent passing references such as John 6:42: “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?” By the time we come to Jesus’ public ministry, Joseph is out of the picture, and the Church generally believes that Joseph died prior to that time.

As for St. Joseph’s family background, the Gospel of Matthew says that Jacob was his father (Matthew 1:16). In the Gospel of Luke, however, Heli is listed as the father of Joseph (Luke 3:23). Through the centuries, Church Fathers and Scripture scholars have come up with different plausible theories to explain this apparent discrepancy in the Gospel accounts regarding Joseph’s father, but the fact remains that none of the accounts or other historical records identify St. Joseph’s mother for us.

Actually, there are relatively few individuals in the New Testament whose mother was identified for us. Often their lives are not recorded in Scripture or other early Christian sources until they get caught up in the mystery of Christ during their adult years.

Despite the paucity of historical information, St. Joseph is one of the most revered saints in the Church, and has the august title of being “patron of the universal Church.” One of the best magisterial sources for more information on St. Joseph is Pope John Paul II’s 1989 apostolic letter Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos).