St Joseph: Man of mercy

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I took a little time to reflect on our patron, St Joseph.

 

Pope John Paul II, in n. 3 of his Apostolic Exhortation on St Joseph, notes that:

[Joseph] did not know how to deal with Mary’s “astonishing” motherhood. He certainly sought an answer to this unsettling question, but above all he sought a way out of what was for him a difficult situation.

 

What was Joseph’s intended course of action?  It was to extend mercy.  As JP2 quotes Matthew:

In these circumstances, “her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Mt 1:19).

 

I’m not a Scripture scholar, but my impression of the religious milieu in which Joseph found himself was one of extreme legalism.  When punishment was called for in the precepts of the Mosaic law, it was to be exacted as prescribed.  His decision to extend mercy to Mary was surely counter-cultural.  Thus JP2 described it as a “difficult situation.”

 

Even before being divinely inspired regarding his extraordinary mission, Joseph’s attitude reveals that his character included the virtue of a merciful heart.

 

Let’s try to imitate the mercy of St Joseph in all of our encounters with others.

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