Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

Dominica 3 in Quadragesima / Evening, 18 March 2017 / Church of St John
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, he goods are in peace” (Lk 14:21)
This Sunday is March 19th, which is of course the feastday of St Joseph. But our liturgical calendar, with its yearly procession of solemn observances, is governed by a sacred courtesy: so St Joseph politely gives way to the Third Sunday in Lent. The Church will commemorate him on Monday.

Nevertheless, the figure of St Joseph appears in the context of our Lenten observance all the same: strong, silent, but noble and virtuous beyond any Patriarch of old. Reading today’s Gospel, I was reminded of one of St Joseph’s titles: he is “The terror of demons.” St Joseph was so close to Jesus and Mary, so righteous and so singularly devoted to the Providence and grace of God, that the bad angels, the enemies of our souls, are terrified at his approach. It is for this reason that no Catholic home should be without some imagine of blessed Joseph.     

Pius IX declared him the patron of the Church in 1870. Why?—Because in the same way that Joseph guarded the earliest mysteries of Jesus, he guards the Church today. We heard our Lord declare in today’s Gospel: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, the goods are in peace” Cum fortis armátus custódit átrium suum, in pace sunt ea quæ póssidet. And in these troubled times—for the Church, for our world, even for our families—we need St Joseph more than ever; he is the strong man who guards the palace of the Church, and therefore, who cares for every devout Catholic soul.

Each year, when the feast of St Joseph nears, I always revisit the poem by one Sr Mary Ada. Called “Limbo,” it gives us an image of what it might have looked like when, after his saving death, Christ descended into hell to save the souls of the just. We declare this mystery at each Mass in the Creed.

In any case, the poem ties together Lent, Easter—the mystery of our salvation—and, as you will see, our glorious and blessed St Joseph.

The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said :
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred
All souls.
They wondered if they dreamed—
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that he wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song.
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue—
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”

No comments:

Post a Comment