First Reading (Isaiah 7. 10 – 14)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 24)
Second Reading (Romans 1. 1 – 7)
Gospel: Matthew 1. 18 – 24
The Annunciation to Joseph is a parallel narrative to the Annunciation of Mary. There are
strong and significant similarities in these two Annunciation narratives. Luke’s infancy
narrative revolves around Mary: a feminine narrative story while Mathew’s infancy narrative
revolves around Joseph: a masculine narrative story.
Luke is writing for the Gentiles, (Greeks and Romans) and he is emphasizing the motherhood of
Mary. On the other hand, Mathew is writing for the Jews and he wanted to emphasize the
fatherhood of Joseph and the legality of his fatherhood. He wants also to bring Joseph to protect
an safeguard a pregnant virgin.
Another interesting point is the divine – human dialogue that transpired. In Luke whenever the
angel appears, the person to whom the angel is speaking and answers meant to erase the doubts,
as well as assurance which remove the fears.
In Mathew, however, the angel appears, the person is asleep. He speaks in a dream; there is no
dialogue. According to the Jews it is only in a dream that God reveals himself. You cannot see
God you can only hear him. If you see God, you will die. So in Mathew’s Annunciation
narrative, there is no dialogue and hence there are no questions and answers. One has to hear
and obey the voice. Joseph stands in the line of the Patriarchs. He has a very important role in
the history of salvation. He stands out as a hero of faith. He is called the righteous. Joseph is a
silent character in the Gospel; we never see him talking.
The Annunciation to Joseph took place when he decided to divorce Mary informally and leave
her, while the Annunciation to Mary took place when she decided to be the wife of Joseph. In
both Annunciation stories fear goes with the reception of the Good news. When the Good News
is sent by God, fear is a usual reaction by the recipient – Fear to come before God, fear to lose,
fear to let go, to let things happen. Actually the greatest fear oftentimes beset with social,
cultural and religious fears. These human fears can be the biggest obstacles to the incarnation.
But if we allow them to reign then the incarnation will never happen.
In the Annunciation to Joseph, he stand out to be prophetically obedient to God’s voice. Joseph
made a personal decision to leave Mary as his wife. Now God tells him to change that personal
decision and not to obey. In fact, God is asking Joseph to break a law. God is teaching him
that the Law, no matter how sacred and dogmatic, cannot be higher than the Word and Will of
God. The problem and difficulty for Joseph is: Who or what shall I obey – the Law, the dogma,
or God? One may have to disobey religious or civil authorities, it is prophetic disobedience. It
is radically and revolutionizing obedience. But Joseph thinks that God is beyond our
knowledge and plans, beyond our projects. His Spirit is beyond our wisdom and insights, and
thus Joseph decides to obey God.
It may be interesting exercise to recall how Joseph is portrayed and depicted in Holy Scriptures
an statues in our Churches. He is shown journeying, holding the donkey, carrying or holding
Jesus in his arms. He is doing manual work with tools in his carpenter’s shop. He is taking care
of and protecting the Holy Family. In all these pictures, Joseph is portrayed as silent and
contemplative even when he is shown as active and dynamic. What a fascinating character and
what a marvelous response to the incarnation!
He was silent in the Scriptures, and therefore often ignored and neglected. This is another proof
of his total surrender and submission. Doing all what God told him to do and doing it in silence.
What a difficult life it must have been for him! And yet, his life seemed to be peaceful. What
could have been the reason behind it?
Bernardine of Sienna says, “This is the general rule that applies to all individual graces given to
rational creatures. Whenever divine grace selects someone to receive a particular grace or some
especially favored position, all the gifts for his state are given to that person, and enrich him
abundantly. This is especially true of that holy man, Joseph, supposed father of our Lord Jesus
Christ and true husband of the queen of the world of the angels. He was chosen by the eternal
Father to be faithful foster – parent and guardian of the most precious treasures of god, his Son
and his spouse. He faithfully carried out this task.” (Cfr. The Human Face of God at Nazareth
This Silent Joseph has much to teach us:
Like Joseph, we are called to be totally open to ourselves and to God.
Joseph like Mary teaches us to be fully obedient to God. He teaches us that when in a
conflicting situation of obedience to God or others, our option has to be in favour of obeying
The day to day life Joseph lived in the Holy family teaches us that we too can be contemplative
even when we are committed to our apostolate.
Though Joseph had decided to divorce Mary informally, when the will of God became clear to
him he reversed his decision in favour of the direction given to him by God. Even after taking
decisions as a result of serious process of discernment, yet, we need to remain open to the
possibility of reviewing them or alter them as required in our effort to be faithful to God.
Like Joseph, when we do not fully comprehend what God wants of us we need to respond to
him through cooperating with in a spirit of faith and trust.
When God entrusts us with a mission or an office of responsibility, which left to ourselves we
may not have the courage to undertake, we need to believe that God grants us the grace of state
required to fulfill that task and accept it wholeheartedly.
Joseph is a silent person. Besides, not much is spoken and written about him. But he is content
with what he is and what he does. He teaches us that solitude and contemplation are important
values to be lived. Faithfulness to our mission does not require publicity or public recognition.
One can be genuinely happy without it. Our happiness depends on what we are in the sight of
God and not on the affirmation, recognition or publicity we may get from people. This is the
hidden spirituality of Nazareth.