This is the faithful and attentive servant whom the Lord has placed at the head of his family1.
This family spoken of in the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass is the Holy Family of Nazareth, God's treasure on earth, which he entrusted to St. Joseph, "the faithful and prudent servant", who gave his life joyfully and without measure to bring it forth. The family of the Lord is also, by extension, the Church, which recognises St. Joseph as its protector and patron.
The First Reading evokes the ancient promises announcing, from generation to generation, the coming of a strong and just King, a good Shepherd who will lead the flock to green pastures, a Redeemer who will save us. In today's reading, David is told by Nathan the prophet that from his descendants will come the Messiah, who will reign forever. Through Joseph, Jesus is the son of David. In him the promises made since Abraham have been fulfilled.
"With the Incarnation the "promises" and the "figures" of the Old Testament become "reality": places, persons, events and rites are intermingled according to precise divine orders, transmitted through the angelic ministry and received by creatures particularly sensitive to the voice of God. Mary is the humble handmaid of the Lord, prepared from eternity for the mission of being the Mother of God; Joseph is the one (...) who has the task of providing for the "ordered" insertion of the Son of God in the world, in respect for divine dispositions and human laws. The whole life, both "private" and "hidden", of Jesus has been entrusted to his custody".
The Gospel of the Mass is particularly interested in underlining that Joseph is connected to the house of David, the depository of the promises made to the patriarchs: Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom Jesus, called Christ, was born6. He is the Patriarch of the New Testament.
Joseph was a simple man whom God covered with graces and gifts so that he could fulfil a singular and endearing mission in the salvific plans. He lived among unspeakable joys, having Jesus and Mary with him, and also among uncertainties and sufferings: perplexity before the mystery worked in Mary, which he did not yet know; the extreme poverty of Bethlehem; the prophecy of Simeon in the Temple about the sufferings of the Saviour; the anguished flight to Egypt; the life without resources in a strange country; the return from Egypt and the fears before Archelaus? He was always very faithful to the will of God, leaving aside merely human plans and reasons.
The centre of his life was Jesus and Mary, and the fulfilment of the mission God had entrusted to him. "St. Joseph's dedication is woven from this interweaving of faithful love, loving faith and confident hope. His feast is, therefore, a good time for all of us to renew our dedication to our vocation as Christians, which the Lord has given to each one of us.
"When there is a sincere desire to live in faith, love and hope, the renewal of commitment is not a retaking of something that has fallen into disuse. When there is faith, love and hope, to renew oneself is - in spite of personal mistakes, falls and weaknesses - to remain in God's hands: to confirm a path of fidelity. To renew one's commitment is to renew (...) fidelity to what the Lord wants of us: to love with deeds".
We especially ask the Holy Patriarch today for an effective desire to do God's will in everything, in a joyful and unconditional dedication, which will help many to find the path that leads to Heaven.