January 16, 2014

Nazareth: Day 4: January 16

Week 1: Getting to know Mary and Joseph
VOCATION: What was Mary and Joseph's marriage really like?

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

If Jesus really is the Son of God, Mary’s conception had to be Divinely inspired. Thus, both Matthew and Luke make it clear that Mary was a virgin at the moment of her conception.
Footnote in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament states: 

  • see Matthew 1:20, “For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her” and Luke 1:27; 34-35, “to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary … ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’ And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” 
  • “The Greek heos does not imply that Joseph and Mary had marital relations following Jesus' birth. This conjunction is often used (translated "to" or "till") to indicate a select period of time, without implying change in the future (2 Sam 6:23 [LXX]; Jn 9:18; 1 Tim 4:13). Here Matthew emphasizes only that Joseph had no involvement in Mary's pregnancy before Jesus' birth. • Mary's perpetual virginity is firmly established in Church tradition. Its doctrinal formulation is traced to the Lateran Synod of A.D. 649 and was reaffirmed in 1968 by Pope Paul VI (The Credo of the People of God, 14; CCC 499-501)”

In 1964 the Second Vatican Council released Lumen Gentium. After presenting Mary as “pre-eminent and as a wholly unique member of the Church”, the Council fathers describe her to be the Church's “type and outstanding model in faith and charity”.  When the Church defines Mary as the “type” it means she “represents” of all humanity. So, in Christ we see God perfectly revealed and in Mary we see all of humanity represented.
Lumen Gentium, no. 53

If Mary represents all of humanity, Mary represents all vocations. The only way to understand our vocation on earth is to understand our ultimate destiny in heaven. The Gospels repeatedly referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom.
see John 3:29; Mark 2:18-20; Ephesians 5:25

Furthermore, the Bible clearly states that, once we get to Heaven, we (the Bride) will be united forever with Christ (the Bridegroom). Therefore, to understand our vocation we must understand that our souls were made for marriage: the ultimate marriage with God in heaven. When speaking of vocations, the Church describes two fundamental “states” in life, two ways of preparing for our ultimate marriage in heaven. Either we are married to a person through the Sacrament of Matrimony or we forgo earthy marriage, choosing celibacy as a partial tasting on earth of our inevitable marriage to God in heaven.


Imagine how often Mary would have prayed with the prophet Isaiah. Imagine how many times Mary would prayed with her husband Joseph. Begin today by reading Isaiah 62:1-7. Compliment Isaiah with Ephesians 3:14-21. Read both a few times. What word or phrase is God using to speak to you. . Now, prayerfully imagine the “hidden scene” of Nazareth. Imagine an ordinary evening in the home of the Holy Family. Jesus is sleeping. Mary and Joseph are enjoying the evening together. What are the kinds of conversations they would have with each other? How does a married couple enjoy each other with God as the center? Be with them. Listen to them. Now … they turn to you … and ask you to talk to them about your vocation. What do you want to say to them?

TODAY'S PRAYER:  “Jesus, I desire know you in a deeply personal way. Help me to know where you and Mary are in my vocation.”

© 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.