Just trust Joseph the Just!

The VerbumQUO for today is "justus" which in English is the adjective "just" taken from today's Introit Justus et palma florebit and today's Gospel describing the holy Saint Joseph, the most just and pure of men, entrusted with the guardianship of the two most important people to ever live: Jesus and His Blessed Mother Mary.
Michael Cain
Editor, The Daily Catholic

      This series for Lent highlights one word from the Proper of the day's Mass. Taking the Latin Verbum and Quotidianum, which mean respectively "Word" and "Daily", we have coined the word "Verbumquo" by contracting quotidianum to quo and running it together as VerbumQUO for this feature series, thus "The Daily Word," as in the sum of the message, the 'quotient', if you will. It is also our hope that in choosing the Latin word with its meaning and etimology more will be attuned to hearing the word read at the altar and better comprehend the beauty of the Mother tongue. Hopefully in this Time of Lent we can gain a higher appreciation and contemplation on how the Daily Proper of the Holy Mass applies in our lives in alignment with the will of Christ and His Blessed Immaculate Mother and His Mystical Bride, His Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    The VerbumQUO for the Double of the First Class Feast of Saint Joseph is "justus", meaning "just." This adjective seems to be an understatement in describing the attributes of such a holy man as Joseph, but in its simplicity it captures who this man of the House of David was. A very just priest, Father Louis Campbell, captured this so beautifully in his sermon last year Royal Prince of the House of David and the magnificent and just Benedictine Abbot Dom Gueranger, in Volume 5 of The Liturgical Year, as usual provides a thorough description of who Joseph was and why just is just perfect:

       "Today, Joseph, the spouse of Mary, the foster-father of the Son of God, comes to cheer us by his dear presence. In a few days hence, the august mystery of the Incarnation will demand our fervent adoration: who could better prepare us for the grand feast, than he that was both the confidant and the faithful guardian of the divine secret?

        The Son of God, when about to descend upon this earth to assume our human nature, would have a Mother; this Mother could not be other than the purest of Virgins, and her divine maternity was not to impair her incomparable virginity. Until such time as the Son of Mary were recognized as the Son of God, His Mother's honor had need of a protector: some man, therefore, was to be called to the high dignity of being Mary's spouse. This privileged mortal was Joseph, the most chaste of men.

        Heaven designated him as being the only one worthy of such a treasure: the rod he held in his hand in the temple suddenly produced a flower, as though it were a literal fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaias: 'There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.' The rich pretenders to an alliance with Mary were set aside; and Joseph was espoused to the Virgin of the house of David, by a union which surpassed in love and purity everything the angels themselves had ever witnessed.

        But he was not only chosen to the glory of having to protect the Mother of the Incarnate Word; he was also called to exercise an adopted paternity over the very Son of God. So long as the mysterious cloud was over the Saint of saints, men called Jesus the Son of Joseph and the carpenter's Son. When our blessed Lady found the Child Jesus in the temple, in the midst of the doctors, she thus addressed Him: 'Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing'; and the holy evangelist adds that Jesus was subject to them, that is, that He was subject to Joseph as He was to Mary.

        Who can imagine or worthily describe the sentiments which filled the heart of this man, whom the Gospel describes to us in one word, when it calls him the just man? Let us try to picture him to ourselves amidst the principal events of his life: his being chosen as the spouse of Mary, the most holy and perfect of God's creatures; the angel's appearing to him, and making him the one single human confidant of the mystery of the Incarnation, by telling him that his Virgin bride bore within her the fruit of the world's salvation: the joys of Bethlehem, when he assisted at the birth of the divine Babe, honored the Virgin Mother, and heard the angels singing; his seeing first the humble and simple shepherds, and then the rich eastern magi, coming to the stable to adore the new-born Child; the sudden fears which came to him, when he was told to arise, and, midnight as it was, to flee into Egypt with the Child and the Mother; the hardships of that exile, the poverty and the privations which were endured by the hidden god, whose foster-father he was, and by the Virgin, whose sublime dignity was now so evident to him; the return to Nazareth, and the humble and laborious life led in that village, where he so often witnessed the world's Creator sharing in the work of a carpenter; the happiness of such a life, in that cottage where his companions were the Queen of the angels and the eternal Son of God, both of whom honored, and tenderly loved him as the head of the family-yes, Joseph was beloved and honored by the uncreated Word, the Wisdom of the Father, and by the Virgin, the masterpiece of God's power and holiness.

        We ask, what mortal can justly appreciate the glories of St. Joseph? To do so, he would have to understand the whole of that mystery, of which God made him the necessary instrument. What wonder, then, if this foster-father of the Son of God was pre-figured in the old Testament, and that by one of the most glorious of the patriarchs? Let us listen to St. Bernard, who thus compares the two Josephs: 'The first was sold by his brethren, out of envy, and was led into Egypt, thus prefiguring our Saviour's being sold; the second Joseph, that he might avoid Herod's envy, led Jesus into Egypt. The first was faithful to his master, and treated his wife with honor; the second, too, was the most chaste guardian of his bride, the Virgin Mother of his Lord. To the first was given the understanding and interpretation of dreams; to the second, the knowledge of, and participation in, the heavenly mysteries. The first laid up stores of corn, not for himself, but for all the people; the second received the living Bread that came down from heaven, and kept It both for himself and for the whole world.'

        Such a life could not close save by a death that was worthy of so great a saint. The time came for Jesus to quit the obscurity of Nazareth, and show Himself to the world. His own works were henceforth to bear testimony to His divine origin; the ministry of Joseph, therefore, was no longer needed. It was time for him to leave this world, and await, in Abraham's bosom, the arrival of that day, when heaven's gates were to be opened to the just. As Joseph lay on his bed of death, there was watching by his side He that is the master of life, and that had often called this His humble creature, father. His last breath was received by the glorious Virgin Mother, whom he had, by a just right, called his bride. It was thus, with Jesus and Mary by his side, caring for and caressing him, that Joseph sweetly slept in peace. The spouse of Mary, the foster-father of Jesus, now reigns in heaven with a glory which, though inferior to that of Mary, is marked with certain prerogatives which no other inhabitant of heaven can have.

        From Heaven, he exercises a powerful protection over those that invoke him. In a few weeks from this time, the Church will show us the whole magnificence of this protection; a solemn feast will be kept in his honor in the third week after Easter. Today the Liturgy sets before us his glories and privileges. Let us unite with the faithful throughout the world, and offer to the spouse of Mary the hymns which are this day sung in his praise."

   From justus comes the English noun "just" as well as "justice." Phonetically it is pronounced YOOS-TOOS with the emphasis on the bolded part. Let us look at Webster's definition:

    "just" - adj., [From the Latin justus just, right, law, justice.] 1. Conforming to spiritual law; righteous, esp. before God. 2. Righteous or equitable in action or judgment; impartial; hence, as of punishments, merited. 3. Legally right; as; a just title. 4. Comformed to the truth of things; well-founded; as a just statement. 5. Exact; accurate. - Syn. See UPRIGHT: Fair. - adv. 1. Precisely; exactly; as, it was placed just so. 2. Closely; nearly; almost. 3. Precisely at the time referred to or implied; now, or but a moment ago; as one just dead. 4. Barely; by a very small space of time; as just too late. Colloq. Simply; quite; - intensive; as, just tired out. Just noun Colloq. A people; as in God rewarded the just. {Also in today's Introit: "The just shall flourish like the palm-tree."} Also the noun, justice [From Latin justitia from justus, just.] 1. The maintenance or administration of that which is just; also, merited reward or punishment. 2. A person duly commissioned to hold courts, or to try and decide controversies and administer justice; a judge or magistrate. 3. Administration of law, according to the rules of law or equity. 4. The principle of rectitude and just dealing of men with each other; also, conformity to it: integrity; rectitude; - one of the cardinal virtues. 5. Rightfulness; as the justice of a cause. 6. Obs. A court of justice or its jurisdiction. - justiceship, noun. justify verb [From Latin justificare from justus + ficare to make just. 1. To prove or show to be just; to vindicate. 2. To pronounce free from guilt or blame; to absolve. 3. To adjust or arrange exactly."

    We can see how of all the adjectives, verbs, nouns and adverbs "just" is so proper here for holy Joseph. The Just Judge deigned that this just man would be just in all he did, not just what he was expected to justly justify, but just as much more he would give to the Just Almighty God and his just-born son and just-betrothed chaste spouse Mary. The Introit from the Prophet David, to whom Joseph's royal lineage could be traced back to, is taken from Psalm 91: 13-14:

      Justus ut palma florebit ; sicut cedrus Libani multiplicabitur. Plantati in domo Domini, in atriis domus Dei nostri florebunt.
      The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.

    Appropriately this week, especially this year, Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, features three greater double feasts - Saint Benedict, Saint Isidore the Farmer, and Saint Gabriel the Archangel - all sandwiched between two of the highest feasts in the Church - Double of the First Class Feasts beginning with today's Feast of St. Joseph and ending with the Feast of the Annunciation. In the midst of Lent we have this joyful, encouraging week built around the Holy Family, beginning with the father of that family: Joseph, and flowing toward the conception of the Word Incarnate Jesus Christ in the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Womb. God showed us clearly in the liturgy for the Third Sunday of Lent that with our eyes we can see the traps. What do we do? We follow the example of the Holy Family and listen to the Word made flesh. If we do, we can make next Sunday - Laetare Sunday - all the more joyful for ourselves and the Holy Family who constantly intercede and answer our prayers. It will also help us prepare for the next three weeks in which the climb to Calvary grows steeper by the day until we die with Jesus, dying to self on Good Friday to reap the dividends of the Paschal Mystery on Easter morn. Though Joseph was not alive to witness such a miracle, or share the sorrow with his beloved chaste bride, he continues from above to console and encourage to emulate his virtues. If every father would seek to follow Joseph's example just 10% more, the world would convert! Imagine if we gave 15%. Why not give what God and Joseph expect? 100%!!! As loyal, faithful Catholics nothing else is sufficient for we are expected to give our all if we want to be listed among the saints, if we want to be considered just men. Let us look at today's Epistle from Ecclesiasticus 45: 1-6 to see the rewards of he who is just:

      Lectio libri Sapientiae. Dilectus Deo et hominibus, cujus memoria in benedictione est. Similem illum fecit in gloris sanctorum, et magnificavit eum in timore inimicorum, et in verbus suis monstra placavit. Glorificavit illum in conspectu regum, et jussit illi coram populo suo, et ostendit illi gloriam suam. In fide, et lenitate ipsius, sanctum fecit illum, et elegit eum ex omni carne. Audivit enim eum, et vocem ipsius, et induxit illum in nubem. Et dedid illi coram parecepta, et legem vitae et disciplinae. Deo Gratias.
      Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. Beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction. He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies, and with his words he made prodigies to cease. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and showed him His glory. He sanctified him in his faith and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. For He heard him and his voice, and brought him into a cloud. And He gave him commandments before His face, and a law of life and instruction. Thanks be to God.

    Those words of wisdom fit Joseph to a tee, as does the Gradual and Tract from Psalm 20 and 111 respectively is speaking of the just man in which is proclaimed: "His seed shall be mighty upon the earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed." Truly Joseph is the fruitful seed of the House of David which, as being all just, has blossomed forth and "shall flourish like the palm tree." In today's Gospel from Saint Matthew 1: 18-21, we see Joseph's fiat:

      Christi autem generatio sic erat : cum esset desponsata mater ejus Maria Joseph, antequam convenirent inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu Sancto. Joseph autem vir ejus cum esset justus, et nollet eam traducere, voluit occulte dimittere eam. Hæc autem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei, dicens : Joseph, fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam : quod enim in ea natum est, de Spiritu Sancto est. Pariet autem filium : et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum : ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum.
      Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for That Which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins

    We wrap up today's thoughts with the beautiful prayer of Dom Gueranger on Joseph:

    "O sublime minister of the greatest blessings, intercede for us with God made Man. Ask Him to bestow humility upon us, that holy virtue which raised thee to such exalted dignity, and which must be the basis of our conversion. It is pride that led us into sin, and made us prefer our own will to that of God: yet will He pardon us if we offer Him the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart (Psalm 1: 19). Get us this virtue, without which there can be no true penance. Pray also for us, O Joseph, that we may be chaste. Without purity of mind and body we cannot come nigh the God of all sanctity, Who suffers nothing defiled to approach Him. He wills to make our bodies, by His grace, the temples of His holy Spirit: do thou, great saint, help us to maintain ourselves in so exalted a dignity, or to recover it if we have lost it.

        And lastly, O faithful spouse of Mary! recommend us to our Mother. If she cast a look of pity upon us during these days of reconciliation, we shall be saved: for she is the Queen of mercy, and Jesus, her Son, will pardon us and change our hearts, if she intercede for us, O Joseph! Remind her of Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth, in all of which she received from thee such marks of thy devotedness. Tell her that we, also, love and honor thee; and Mary will reward us for our devotion to him who was given her by Heaven as her protector and support."

    Protector and support, indeed. Humility is the virtue which gives portal to all the many titles this great saint possesses, and merits. Besides the adjectives pure, chaste and obedient, the summation of being the most righteous of descriptions is "just": the most just of men. He is most just as Universal Patron of Holy Mother Church, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Foster-father of Jesus, Patron of a Happy Death, Model of Righteousnes, Protector of Children, Hope of the Sick, Consolation of the Poor, Rescuer of Sinners, Solace of the Afflicted, Model of Christian Workers, Patron of those who fight Communism, Patron of Priests and Seminarians, Model of Single Men and Married Men, Guardian of Virgins, and Safeguard of Families. Truly, "just" more than just justifies such a just man. Just in case you haven't caught the gist yet. Just trust Joseph the Just!

Michael Cain, editor, The Daily Catholic

VerbumQUO for the Feast of ST. JOSEPH