March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the day we recognize the role of Our Lord’s foster father. The Saint was in my thoughts as I prayed the Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah this morning.
The background for Zechariah’s song is birth of his son, John the Baptist (Luke 1:57), and the presentation of John for circumcision (1:59-63). John’s conception had, of course, been miraculous—given Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s advanced age (1:5-25).
Yet Zechariah’s song does not only celebrate his son’s birth, but Our Lord’s. For The Blessed Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel announced Christ would be born to her by the power of the Holy Spirit (1:26-38). When Mary arrived at the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John leapt within the womb of Elizabeth (1:39-41). Elizabeth then acknowledged this recognition of the unborn Christ Child (1:42-45). Mary responded with the Magnificat, acknowledging “the Mighty One has done great things for me” (1:46-55).
All of this is background to Zechariah’s song and St. Joseph’s role in Our Lord’s life. From the Benedictus:
Luke 1:71: “. . . [God] promised to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us” (Joseph protected the Christ Child and the Blessed Virgin Mary from Herod’s wrath, taking them into Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15)
Luke 1:75: “. . . holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life” (God the Holy Spirit said of St. Joseph in scripture, that he was “a just (righteous) man,” Matthew 1:19a, just as God has given us the marvelous promise that we shall be holy and blameless before Him in Christ, Ephesians 1:4)
May we celebrate with joy the Solemnity of Our Lord’s foster father, Saint Joseph, giving thanks for his God-given role in our Savior’s life. St. Joseph, pray for us!