January 15, 2014

Nazareth: Day 3: January 15

Week 1: Getting to know Mary and Joseph
JUST: What kind of person was Joseph?

Missing the YouTube plug-in? Click here to listen to the homily via YouTube

"The designation of Joseph as a just man … gives an overall picture of Saint Joseph and at the same time it aligns him with the great figures of the Old Covenant— beginning with Abraham, the just." Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, pg. 39

"Psalm 1 presents the classic image of the 'just' man. We might well think of it as a portrait of the spiritual figure of Saint Joseph. A just man, it tells us, is one who maintains living contact with the word of God, who 'delights in the law of the Lord' (v. 2). He is like a tree, planted beside the flowing waters, constantly bringing forth fruit. The flowing waters, from which he draws nourishment, naturally refer to the living word of God, into which he sinks the roots of his being. God’s will is not a law imposed on him from without, it is 'joy.'"
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, pg. 39

"By calling God 'Father', the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father."
Catechism of Catholic Church, no. 239


To know Joseph’s heart we listen to the words that most describe a just man. Begin by slowly reading Psalm 1, especially verses 2-3. Read it a few times. Now, prayerfully imagine the “hidden scene” of Nazareth. Imagine an ordinary evening in the home of the Holy Family. Jesus is still an infant. Joseph is a new father. It is early, very early before sunrise. Mary lies next to the infant Jesus as they are both asleep. Joseph wakes up. He kneels aside the bed. He gazes at this awesome infant. He is stunned with awe. Then … Jesus’ eyes open. In utter silence, the infant Jesus looks at Joseph … and Joseph looks at Jesus. Imagine how Joseph must have felt to be chosen by the Father to father Jesus. Be in the scene. Be with them. Joseph looks at you and asks you to kneel beside the bed.

TODAY'S PRAYER:  “Jesus, I desire know you in a deeply personal way. Today I ask that you would allow me to grow in my relationship with St. Joseph so that I might know him as you did.”

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2014


Luke and Matthew’s Gospels have their own lens through which they tell the story of Christmas. Thus, the Gospels end differently. Luke has the nativity concluding with the presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-38), while Matthew has the nativity end with the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-22).

However, both Gospels agree with the place chosen for Jesus’ childhood home: Nazareth.

The Scriptures tell us very little about Nazareth, and what we do know isn’t very flattering. In John 1:46, Nathanael scoffs as he asks, “What good can come from Nazareth?” In Luke 4, Jesus returns home to his native synagogue and proclaims the well known passage from Isaiah 61:1-2. Luke 4: 22 says that immediately following the reading, “And all spoke well of him”. However, soon after, Nazareth’s leaders “were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.” (Luke 4:28-29) It seems that Jesus struggled to minister in Nazareth, lamenting, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.” (Luke 4:24)

With all her imperfections, Nazareth was home. While Joseph’s ancestral roots were in Bethlehem , Joseph considered Nazareth home (Luke 2:4). While Mary had relatives to the south in Judah, Mary considered Nazareth home (Luke 1:26).

Nazareth was home. 

In Luke 2:39 we read: "When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." Later in Luke 2:51: & 52 we read: "He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man."

That's it: three verses. Jesus didn't start his public ministry until he was 30 years old. We know a bit about his birth, much about his last three years of life ... and almost nothing about his first 30 years of life. All we know is that it all happened in Nazareth.

Over the next several weeks we'll unpack a the hidden text of the Scriptures. In other words, while we don't know the exact details, we do know that much happened in the 30 years of Jesus' hidden life.

Together we'll learn more about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Together we'll learn more about his childhood, his teenage years, and those sacred years preceding his Baptism. Together we'll learn about what happened in the hidden years ... in Nazareth.

Welcome home, welcome to Nazareth.


Mark 1:29-39


Christ the Redeemer will start a new Bible study, beginning the last week of January, focusing on the Gospel of Matthew. The class is free. There will be two classes. The first class will be once a week in the morning and the second class will once a week in the evening. If you are interested in more information, please call 985-447-2013 and ask for Margie in reference to the Bible study. Check out the YouTube clip below for a peak at the Bible study.