Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Third Sunday of Lent A & St. Joseph, the husband of Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Third Sunday of Lent A & St. Joseph, the husband of Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19,2017

What was the Samaritan woman looking for in those six men? Pope Benedict XVI wrote that “the woman is made aware of what in actuality she has always known but to which she has not always adverted: that she thirsts for life itself and that all the assuaging that she seeks and finds cannot slake this living elemental thirst…. There comes to light the real dilemma, the deep seated waywardness, of her existence: she is brought face to face with herself.” What brings this about is an encounter with Jesus. Pontius Pilate will declare: “Behold the man!” From our own living and elemental thirst, like the woman at the well, we do just that, giving ourselves to this man who in his thirst (“I thirst!”) asks us for a drink. We are certain that at last we will “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our “hope does not disappoint.” We will not die in our thirst. The Lord is in our midst. Finally, satisfaction can happen; this is the man we have been waiting for.


Opening Prayer

God of all compassion, Father of all goodness, You are the healer of the wounds that our sins and selfishness have brought upon us .We acknowledge our sinfulness and our guilt is ever before us:  when our weakness causes discouragement, let your compassion fill us with hope  and lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy.  Lord we have time and again tried to satisfy our thirst through what the world has offered us. With your grace lead us only to the well that satisfies.  Enable us to drop our buckets of shame to be blessed and honored to drink of the Living Water. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Ex 17:3-7 – Give us water, so that we may drink.

In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people,
along with some of the elders of Israel,
holding in your hand, as you go,
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading II
Rom 5:1-2, 5-8 – The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

The word of the Lord.

Jn 4:5-42 – The water that I shall give become a spring of eternal life.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily: A Master Class Evangelization click below:

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Striking the rock

Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:

The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading—a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty too in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst—as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened? – Read the source:

Reflection 2 – The Samaritan woman at the well

What we find in today’s gospel scenario is the Samaritan woman whose nature may not be far different from each of us. She knew what it was to be treated as an outcast and how to remain cold and indifferent to the Jews. She knew the hatred that persisted between them and the Jewish people and she was not up to change that situation as she responded to Jesus’ request for a drink, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”

Just like everyone, she would not reveal too much about herself yet Jesus made her aware that nothing can be kept secret as He disclosed the truth about her life. By speaking the truth, Jesus softened her heart and she became a changed person, for Jesus had shown her what was most important. He told her of her past, of all the things she had done, her five husbands and the man she was presently living with. When Jesus confronted her with the very truth of her life and acknowledged it, she was changed and set free!

We do not know why she had five husbands. We do not know if her previous husbands had abandoned her for some silly reasons, or if they had passed away. But we may be inclined to believe that her life was less than admirable. One can only surmise that she must have lived a life where her neighbors looked down on her, a laughing stock of her community. She could have led a very unhappy life, filled with embarrassment, unfulfilled and always wanting. Her being divorced five times is an indicator of the fact that on five occasions she had been rejected by men whom she had loved and trusted. At the mercy of men who made her their wife and then, for whatever reason, perhaps even because of her intelligence and assertiveness, cast her out, we can conclude that the Samaritan woman lived a difficult life. Her five cases of divorce do not really prove her sinfulness but her life of suffering. She may not be with great sins or great secrets, but rather with great sadness as there is no evidence that she lived a bad life but rather a hard and difficult life.

With her self-esteem at an all time low, she decided to live in sin with another fornicator, believing the happiness she sought in her ex-husbands will be upon her.

But God is full of love and mercy not only to the Jews but to all men. He had the Samaritan woman in His mighty plan as Jesus decided to pass by Samaria, a route not normally taken by the Jews. The joy and fulfillment she was hoping for in her past life, the freedom out of bondage as a Samaritan, all came upon her, when a Jew revealed to her the truth that totally set her free.

When Jesus came into her life, she discovered a new life in Him. She went into the city and proclaimed to every man (presumably fellow Samaritans) that she met Jesus Who changed her life. The truth, now out in the open, freed her from the bondage of her former ways, and was given new hope and new life, never again to thirst, as she has now drunk of the living waters of Christ.

Today, how often have we found ourselves thirsting for the truth? How often have we, by our own actions, felt like the Samaritan woman at the well? What are we hiding from God?

The Samaritan woman brings to us the truth that can never be denied: nothing can be hidden from Him because he knows all things. What ever we have done, He already knows and seeks to confront us, face to face, to correct us while we still have time. God’s Word has healing power. It can change us, strengthen us and free us! That is why the Samaritan woman was transformed and strengthened by speaking to Jesus!

The truth can only set us free. Our relationship with God should therefore be founded on nothing but the truth. We may be able to deceive our neighbor but we will never deceive God. A relationship based on anything but the truth will never last, for the day will come when whatever we thought was hidden shall confront us, even haunt us. Only when we live in truth can we be fulfilled and be filled by the Spirit. And only then can we discover the real value of our existence.

We were all created in the image of God and as such should strive to become like Him in every way. Our calling in life is to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves and we can only do this if we love them honestly even amidst their brokenness, without any trace of falsehoods to gain their affection.

The Samaritan woman’s life was changed by her contact with the Living God. We too can be changed if we regularly receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We too can be changed if we meet Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation and resolve to do better in our ways. We can do all these things in Christ because the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome all that is lacking in us will be with us.

Today Jesus finds the need to meet with all of us much the same way as He found the need to meet with the Samaritan woman. Just as He confronted her sin and ministered to her broken heart, He will do the same for all of us.

Rejoice for Jesus is coming! “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!”


This season of Lent let us continue to pray, meditate on His word, wait for Him and listen to His gentle voice. He may speak to us through a dream or a bible verse. He may come to us through a friend or through our heart and soul. God loves all of us unconditionally regardless of who we are and the kind of life we have lived.


Heavenly Father give me the grace to leave behind my own jar of water and make me faithfully drink of the Living Waters that will give me eternal life. In Jesus Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 3 – “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst” (Jn 4:13)

Jesus challenges us today’s Gospel story: “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst” (Jn 4:13). What does this mean to us today? Let’s review the story of the Samaritan woman. It was high noon in a remote, dry place where the only water came from a deep well, and Jesus didn’t have a bucket. When he asked the woman for a drink, he shocked her because in addressing her he was breaking some strict social taboos of that time. But when she got over her surprise, he reminded her that he was not only the only one who was thirsty; so was she. Here Jesus spoke of a different kind of thirst, one that could not be satisfied by water from the well. It was a thirst that we all have – a thirst for meaning, a thirst for fulfillment, a thirst for happiness that only God can satisfy.

Jesus holds out to the woman, that he could give her water that would become a spring in her, is first of all an invitation to become a disciple of his. He is saying to her, “Let the water I can give into your life.” Jesus was referring here to the Spirit that those who opened themselves to him and his words would receive. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He, who believes in me, from within him, shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:37-39). Only Jesus could give the woman the life-giving water for which she was really searching. Jesus was telling the woman that if she followed him she would not only be filled with life-giving water but she herself will become a spring that would never run dry.

Lent is a time when we pay more attention to this deeper thirst that is within us all. In our ordinary, day-to-day lives, we try to relieve it in a thousand ways that offer some relief but ultimately fall short. Jesus says that if we drink the water he offers, we will not be thirsty again. When do we drink this water today? It is when we worship God in Spirit and in truth. God comes to us here in the Gospel and the Sacraments; we hear the Word of God and we eat the bread of life at the Eucharist. This is living water, a spring welling up to eternal life.

Let’s go back to the gospel. There is one thing more. When the Samaritan woman asks Jesus for this water, he tells her to call her husband. She says, “I have no husband” (Jn 4:17). Jesus tells her that she’s right because she had five husbands, and the one she has now is not her husband. If she is to worship in truth, she must first get her life in order. And so must we. Lent is a time to look more closely at ourselves, to ask who we really are and what we really stand for. Are our lives in harmony with what we profess? Is there something missing? Is there something that doesn’t belong?

Self-knowledge and knowing God go together. When the Samaritan woman went back to town, she told her neighbors, “Come, see a man who told me everything I have done” (Jn 4:29). During this holy season we should ask God to reveal us to ourselves. We may not like some of the things we see. Neither did the woman, but she leaves her past. Jesus did not scold her. He told it like it was, but he gave her the feeling that she could be different, because he believed in her more than she believed in herself. That’s the way he feels about us. How do we respond to his invitation, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst”? Watch the video of Archbishop Fulton Sheen: Woman at the Well

Reflection 4 – God’s Thirst

The mother sends her small boy to bed. A few minutes later: 

”What?” “I’m thirsty. Can you bring me a glass of water?” “No. Drinking water before bed is not good for a bed-wetter like you. Go to sleep.”
 Five minutes later: 
”Mommy…! I’m thirsty. Can I have some water?” The mother was annoyed. “I told you no! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!” But a few minutes later… “Mommmmyy…”

”What!?” Now she was angry. But she suddenly cooled down when she heard the sweet voice, “Mommy, when you come in to spank me, can you bring me a glass of water?”

The poor little boy must really be thirsty. He was willing to suffer some spanking just to have a glass of water. It is said that we can survive for weeks without food, but we cannot last a day without water. The composition of the human body is 80% water. Hence, water is necessary for the proper functioning of our body. In fact, losing only 2% of water will make us sick, and can cause the breakdown of the vital organs. Indeed, thirst is a concrete and universal human experience.

The Samaritan woman, like anybody else, needed water. So she had to go to the well everyday. But her thirst was not only physical. She was also thirsty spiritually. She was looking for happiness and meaning in life, and this led her to go from one man to another. She now lives with the sixth man, and since she had no intention to marry him, she must already be in search for the seventh man in her life. In biblical symbolism, the number six stands for imperfection and deficiency, while the number seven symbolizes completeness and perfection. At the well, she met the seventh man, Jesus. He declared to her, “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.” She has found the solution to her thirst: God.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta frequently said that the worst poverty is not being able to know Christ, and that if we would just open our eyes and look around, we could see that people are thirsty for God. Nothing else in this world can ever satisfy this deepest longing of our soul. As the Catechism puts it: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (#27). It is but natural for us to long for God because our thirst does not come from ourselves, but from Someone who thirsts for us. St. Gregory Nazianzen said, “God thirsts for the one who thirsts for Him!”

And that is the truth: God thirsts for us! It is God who always initiates everything. Jesus said, It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (Jn 15:16). The Apostle St. John said, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins” (1Jn 4:10).

While hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” They gave him sour wine or vinegar to drink. It was considered a thirst-quencher. But he refused to drink. It must be a different and much deeper kind of thirst. In the Gospel this Sunday, he asked the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink.” But he spent a long time talking with her. He must not really be thirsty for water after all. In saying, “Give me a drink” and “I thirst”, Jesus was actually thirsting for the love of his own people. He longs to offer us his life-giving water: “The water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

A man was lost as he was walking across a vast wasteland. After walking for miles without a clear direction, he was already dying of thirst. Fortunately, from a distance he saw something. Coming closer, he saw a man in front of a table selling neckties. “Please, sir!” he begged. “I am dying of thirst. Give me some water.” The vendor replied, “I have no water here. But if you buy a necktie, I can help you get some water.” The man was angry. “What on earth is the matter with you?” he shouted. “I am asking for water and you are offering me those ugly neckties!” “Okay,” said the vendor. “It’s alright if you do not buy. I will tell you where you can have water. One mile from here to the east, there is a restaurant.” The man hurriedly left. But half an hour later, the man returned exhausted and dehydrated. “Please, sir,” he implored, “let me buy one of those neckties! They would not let me in unless I wear a necktie!”

In this story, the restaurant abundant with life-sustaining food and water, represents God’s kingdom. We are the weary travelers in this vast wasteland we call world. Jesus is our only access to the heavenly kingdom. He offers to us for free all the gifts of the Spirit that enables us to enter the kingdom of God. As he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Lent is a season for more meaningful prayer and self-examination. Like the Samaritan woman who discovered the life giving water in Jesus by conversing with him, so may we also spend more time in intimate and constant communication with him in silence and prayer. Through this, we will discover in our hearts the thirst for God that has its source in God’s thirst for us. As the Psalmist sang, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God”(Ps 42:2). – (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 5 – A spring of water welling up to eternal life

Would you do a favor for someone who snubbed you or treated you like an enemy? Jesus did just that and more! He treated the Samaritans, the sworn enemies of the Jews, with great kindness and respect. The Samaritans who lived in middle region of Israel between Galilee and Judaea and the Jews who lived in the rest of the land of Israel had been divided for centuries. They had no dealings with one another, avoiding all social contact, even trade, and inter-marriage. If their paths crossed it would not be unusual for hostility to break out.

When Jesus decided to pass through Samaria he stopped at Jacob’s well because it was mid-day and he was both tired from the journey and thirsty. Jacob’s well was a good mile and a half from the nearest town, called Sychar. It wasn’t easy to draw water from this well since it was over a hundred feet deep. Jesus had neither rope nor bucket to fetch the water.

When a Samaritan woman showed up at the well, both were caught by surprise. Why would a Samaritan woman walk a mile and a half in the mid-day heat to fetch her water at a remote well rather than in her local town? She was an outcast and not welcomed among her own townspeople. Jesus then did something no respectable Jew would think of doing. He reached out to her, thus risking ritual impurity and scorn from his fellow Jews. He also did something no strict Rabbi would dare to do in public without loss to his reputation. He treated the woman like he would treat one of his friends – he greeted her and spoke at length with her. Jesus’ welcoming approach to her was scandalous to both Jews and Samaritans because this woman was an adulteress and public sinner as well. No decent Jew or Samaritan would even think of being seen with such a woman, let alone exchanging a word with her!

Jesus broke through the barriers of prejudice, hostility, and tradition to bring the good news of peace and reconciliation to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles alike. He demonstrated the universality of the gospel both in word and deed. No one is barred from the love of God and the good news of salvation. There is only one thing that can keep us from God and his redeeming love – our stubborn pride and willful rebellion.

What is the point of Jesus’ exchange with the Samaritan woman about water? Water in the arid land was scarce. Jacob’s well was located in a strategic fork of the road between Samaria and Galilee. One can live without food for several days, but not without water. Water is a source of life and growth for all living things. When rain came to the desert, the water transformed the wasteland into a fertile field.

The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was living, running, fresh, pure water. Fresh water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still water one might find in a pool or reservoir. When the Israelites complained about lack of water in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to strike the rock and a stream of fresh living water gushed out (Exodus17:6 ). Even though the Israelites did not trust God to care for them in the wilderness, God, nonetheless gave them abundant water and provision through the intercession of his servant Moses.

The image of “living water” is used throughout the scriptures as a symbol of God’s wisdom, a wisdom that imparts life and blessing to all who receive it. “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 13:14).  “Living water” was also a symbol for the Jews of thirst of the soul for God. The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the Holy Spirit and his work of recreating us in God’s image and sustaining in us the new life which comes from God. The life which the Holy Spirit produces in us makes us a “new creation” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Do you thirst for God and for the life of the Holy Spirit within you?

Hippolytus (170-236 AD), an early Christian writer and theologian who lived in Rome, explains the significance of the Holy Spirit’s work in us:

“This is the water of the Spirit: It refreshes paradise, enriches the earth, gives life to living things. It is the water of Christ’s baptism; it is our life. If you go with faith to this renewing fountain, you renounce Satan your enemy and confess Christ your God. You cease to be a slave and become an adopted son. You come forth radiant as the sun and brilliant with justice. You come forth a son of God and fellow-heir with Christ.” (From a sermon, On the Epiphany)

Basil the Great (330-379 AD), a great early Christian teacher and Greek bishop of Caesarea,  speaks in a similar manner:

“The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as children of God; he instills confidence that we may call God truly Father and grants us the grace of Christ to be children of the light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, he bestows the fullness of blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall someday enjoy. If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be? If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?” (From the treatise, The Holy Spirit)

“Lord Jesus, my soul thirsts for you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may always find joy in your presence and take delight in doing your will.” – Read the source:

Reflection 6 – Give us water of eternal life

The first two Sundays of Lent paint the big picture of salvation history. Two weeks ago, we heard that God created man and called him to dwell with him in paradise, but in his pride, man rejected this invitation and sinned against God. Christ, the New Adam, rejects the temptation of the Devil and restores man to his original vocation. Last week, we meditated on the glory to which we are called and which Christ has won for us on the Cross. The next three weeks during lent are a special preparation for the Sacraments of Christian Initiation, for our new life in Christ.

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel begin to grumble and complain in the desert. They start to lose hope and long for their former way of life in Egypt. Moses seeks an answer from God, who grants them the gift of water. In spite of this and instead of trusting in God, they test God and quarrel among themselves. They even doubt that God accompanies them: “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”

Like the people of Israel, we are also on an exodus journey. However, our exodus is not lead by Moses, the servant of God, but by Jesus, the Son of God. Our exodus does not lead to the promised land of Canaan, but to the Promised Land of heaven, God’s abode. In the desert of life, God gives us the waters of Baptism and heavenly manna in the Eucharist. We are called to hope and trust in God. We cannot harden our hearts to God’s action; rather, we must bow down in worship and kneel before the Lord who guides us. Our prayer should be one of thanksgiving and praise.

In the second reading, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit has been given to us and that God’s love has been poured into our hearts. The waters of Baptism justify us and purify us from original sin. They establish God’s dwelling in our hearts and introduce us into the life of the Trinity: we become children of the Father, members of Christ’s body and temples of the Holy Spirit. The waters of Baptism are effective because they signify our sharing in Christ’s death and resurrection. We go down into the water with Christ crucified and rise up from the waters with the risen Christ.

In the Gospel, John narrates the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus does not begin by accusing her of sin. Instead, he brings her to desire the water of eternal life that only he can provide. From this deep and profound desire for eternal life, she is led to recognize her sinful state. Christ sees her heart and wants to heal her wounds. The woman desires to know more from Jesus and she is told that soon God will be worshiped in Spirit and truth. This will be the fulfillment of the covenant promises made to Abraham of a worldwide blessing. Jesus concludes by introduces her in the mystery of the Messiah, the one who will redeem Israel and all humanity from sin and death. The separation of Jews and Samaritans will end and all men and women will be welcomed into the Church of Jesus through the waters of Baptism and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Read the source:

Reflection 7 – “‘Is the Lord in our midst or not?’”

This year on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, our Gospel passage comes from the Gospel according to Saint John. Saint John’s Gospel account differs from MatthewMark, and Luke in many ways. One of the unique things about John that we will hear during these three Sundays is that John often expresses double meanings through the words and works of Jesus. For example, when Jesus cures a blind man, the evangelist goes out of his way to show how that cure—besides being a physical miracle—is also a sign that Jesus can cure a person’s spiritual blindness. Similarly, in John, Jesus speaks with Nicodemus late at night about being “born again”, which Nicodemus misunderstands because he thinks Jesus means this literally.

In today’s Gospel passage from John is another conversation. Jesus meets a Samaritan woman, and a dialogue arises between these two persons: on the one hand is God the Son, and on the other hand is a sinful Samaritan woman. She is an outcast who represents every human sinner. During the season of Lent, God calls each of us to meditate upon the mercy which God the Father undeservedly gives us through the gift of His Son. The three things that we know about this woman likewise suggest that she was herself undeserving: that is, that Jesus, in His time and place, should have had nothing to do with her.

The Samaritan woman was, first of all, a grave sinner: strike one. Secondly, she was a woman: strike two, because in Jesus’ day, no upstanding Jewish rabbi would ever speak in public with a woman. Thirdly, she was a Samaritan: strike three, because the Samaritans were a mixed race, only partially Jewish, and had no respect for the Jewish prophets, or the Temple in Jerusalem. To the people of Jesus’ time and place, He must have been out of His mind to speak with such a person. But maybe the problem is with the minds of those people of Jesus’ time and place, who cannot conceive of the true nature of mercy.

Through the dialogue between Jesus Christ and this outcast, St. John helps us see what Paul teaches in today’s Second Reading: that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us, {who are} the ungodly”. In Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, then, we can hear what Jesus is saying to each of us who is a sinner and outcast.

At the very beginning of the conversation between Jesus and the outcast, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Think about this: Jesus Christ, who is God, asks the outcast for what He does not have. Immediately, this sounds strange, that an all-powerful God would ask a sinful woman for a drink. Why would He do this?

Surely if Jesus had wanted, He could have worked a miracle greater than the one God had worked through Moses in the desert, bringing water from the rock at Massah and Meribah. So given His divine omnipotence, what does Jesus need with this sinful Samaritan woman?  What does Jesus need with us? He needs nothing. But He asks the outcast for something that He does not have, in order to give her something greater. Although Jesus needs nothing, He wants a great deal: that is to sayHe wants every human soul to be His.

Here John’s double meaning begins to emerge. Jesus asks the outcast for what he does not have. He does not have the outcast’s soul. The Samaritan woman has chosen, over the years, to keep her soul to herself, to use herself and others for her own desires. But God wants her soul. Of course, God could always have anything He wants, just as He could have produced a river in the desert to quench His thirst. But God chooses, at the moment a human life begins, to give that person freedom: the freedom to love Him completely, which in turn means the freedom to leave Him completely.

Each of us sinners choose to use his freedom for his own sake, to serve his own needs and desires. But the more a person serves himself, the darker, the deader, and the harder his heart becomes. God, of course, is always free to take away our sins without our confessing them, but if He were to do that, He would also take away our freedom. God uses His divine freedom to withhold forgiveness, so that we may use our human freedom to ask His forgiveness.

Jesus, throughout His dialogue with the outcast, works at drawing forth a confession from the depths of her sinful heart, just as He asks her to draw water from the depths of the well. When the outcast finally recognizes her need for something greater than this world’s pleasures, she turns to God. From Him, she seeks the joy which only He can pour down from heaven, the grace that floods the soul for the first time in the waters of Baptism.

Each of us casts himself away from God’s presence by his sins. During this season of Lent those in the RCIA who are the Elect of the Church are preparing themselves to be baptized at Easter by turning away from the sins of their past, asking God to pour out His Divine Mercy into their souls. Those of us who have already been washed in the waters of Baptism also admit our sins during Lent, availing ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession.

But we might ask ourselves, “Why do we confess our sins?” After all, God already has knowledge of our sins. Then again, why would Jesus, in today’s Gospel passage, need to ask for something He already has access to? We see that Jesus, in asking something of the Samaritan woman, is in fact offering her something. In her conversation with Jesus, she comes to recognize her own sinfulness, and from her heart flow tears of sorrow for her sins. From the hardened heart of an outcast flows her human love for God, and God, in return, offers a share in divine, eternal love. Tears of sorrow prepare souls to receive the flood-waters of God’s Divine Mercy.

God is working to call each of us into a conversation with Him. Jesus wants to speak to each of us, heart to heart. Each of us has the opportunity to approach Him, and offer Him our sinful selves, knowing that there is no heart so hardened by sin that God does not want to draw human love from it, and fill it with His own divine love. – Read the source:

Reflection 8 – At The Well

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. —Isaiah 12:3

A guide in Israel was preparing to lead a tour into the desert. His instructions to the group were simple and clear: “If you do not have these two items, I will not allow you to accompany us. You must have a broad-brimmed hat and a full bottle of water. These will protect you from the sun, and from the thirst caused by wind and dryness.”

Water. It’s essential to survival. That’s why a woman came to the well in Samaria (John 4:7). She came at noon, when few people were there. She was startled when a young Jewish man asked her for something to drink. Jesus broke huge barriers with His request—she was a woman, had been married many times, and wasn’t a Jew.

Jesus offered her water far better than that from the well. He had “living water,” which only He could give (vv.10,13-14). I believe she took that water and was spiritually cleansed, for she told everyone what she had experienced: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (v.29).

Are you at the well? Is your soul thirsting for God? Do you need the cleansing and refreshment He offers? He is waiting there to satisfy you with the “living water” of salvation and the gift of everlasting life.  — David C. Egner

Gracious and Almighty Savior,
Source of all that shall endure,
Quench my thirst with living water,
Living water, clear and pure. —Vinal

Jesus is the only fountain who can satisfy the thirsty soul (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 9 – Wisdom For Witnessing

The woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” –John 4:9

We can learn a lot about effective witnessing by examining our Lord’s encounter with the woman at the well (John 4:5-26). He broke all social protocol by talking to this Samaritan woman. And asking her for a drink of water was a compliment of sorts. Later, He had a perfect opportunity to condemn her sinful lifestyle, but He didn’t.

Author Paul Little points out that unlike Jesus we are quick to condemn. He writes, “Often we have the mistaken idea that if we don’t condemn a certain attitude or deed, we will be condoning it.” He adds, “Not only must we avoid condemning people, we need to learn the art of legitimate compliment.”

He then related an encounter that writer Charles Trumbull once had on a train. A profanity-spewing, drunken man boarded and lurched into the seat next to him. When the man offered him a drink from his flask, Trumbull didn’t condemn his condition. Instead he replied, “No thank you, but I can see you are a very generous man.” The man’s eyes lit up. As they talked, he heard about the One who offers the satisfying water of life. Later, he gave his life to Christ.

When you share your faith, remember the effectiveness of giving a compliment and avoiding condemnation.    — Joanie Yoder

Lord, help us show compassion
To a world that’s lost in sin,
So when we share the gospel,
Hungry souls for Christ we’ll win. —Sper

Loving the lost is the first step in leading them to Christ (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 10 – Come, See

Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? –John 4:29

Christ has done great things in my life. Because of what He has done for me and for other believers, I like to extend to people the same invitation that the Samaritan woman gave to her neighbors: “Come, see” (Jn. 4:29).

Come, see what He did in the life of Joe, a man who had been a slave to alcohol for more than 30 years. One Monday morning, after many previous discussions with me, he came to my house and said, “Last night I got on my knees and told God that I was a rotten sinner and asked Jesus to save me.” He was such a transformed man from that time forward that his neighbors were astounded.

Come, see what He did for a young woman dying of leukemia. When the doctors said the disease had returned after a time of remission, she calmly declared, “I’m not afraid, because I know where I am going.” During the following weeks she showed more concern for her family than for herself. I saw the presence of Jesus strengthen her and sustain the family.

After more than 65 years of trusting Jesus, I can vouch for the reality of His presence and power. I invite you to receive Jesus as your Savior and start living a life of obedience and trust. What He has done for me, He can do for you.  — Herbert Vander Lugt

It is no secret what God can do,
What He’s done for others He’ll do for you;
With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you–
It is no secret what God can do. –Hamblen

When you know Christ, you’ll want everyone to meet Him (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 11 – Spoil Yourself

Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain. –John 4:14

The old saying “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is true. We can’t prove the quality of something until we’ve tried it. If we find it to be superior, we become spoiled and can never again be satisfied with less.

That’s the discovery the Samaritan woman made as she talked with Jesus (Jn. 4). When He offered her “living water” (v.10), she thought He was referring to better drinking water. She was convinced that the water from the well was the best available–until she met the One who offered her spiritual water. Her testimony led many others to put their trust in Christ (v.39).

The late Malcolm Muggeridge, English journalist and broadcaster, made a similar discovery. Before meeting Christ, he had been drinking from the finest earthly fountains–fame, success, pleasure, and fulfillment. “Yet I say to you,” he once testified, “and I beg of you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing, less than nothing, measured against one draught of that living water that is offered to the spiritually hungry.”

Are you drinking from earthly fountains and still feeling thirsty? Turn to Christ, and drink so deeply that you’ll be spoiled forever from wanting anything less.  — Joanie Yoder

Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other name for me;
There’s love and life and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee. –McGranahan

Only Jesus, the Living Water, can satisfy the thirsty soul (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 12 – What’s your spiritual thirst?

What are you thirsty for? Thirst is what happens when we lack something vital. Water is essential for our physical survival, and our bodies signal us when it’s time to drink fluids to stay healthy.

Likewise, water is necessary for our spiritual survival, albeit a different sort of water — the living water, which we first received from the baptismal water that purifies us for eternal life. This living water is a holy water that enables us to have abundant life in Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life. One of the biblical symbols that represents the presence of God’s Spirit is life-giving water. Therefore, we can surmise that Jesus wanted to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritan woman. Why? It would still be a while before the Holy Spirit descended upon everyone at Pentecost.

She needed the truth; the Holy Spirit is Truth, and Jesus wanted to give her whatever she needed to repent and receive salvation and then share this new life with the people around her.

We only get thirsty when we haven’t had enough to drink. Spiritual thirst shows itself in many forms: addictions, loneliness, despair, frustration, self-indulgence, or any other feeling or behavior that’s triggered when we lack something that we need or want.

And why would we lack anything spiritually? Because, like the woman at the well, we sometimes fail to realize that Christ is with us. We need to receive a spiritual healing.

How does God give us this healing? He pours his love into us with all sufficiency, but to drink of it, we have to listen openly, like that woman, ready to be changed by the truth.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What sin or unhealthy habit do you need to overcome so that Jesus is free to quench your thirsts? What will you do this week to hand it over to Christ?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
1. In the first reading, why did a physical thirst turn into a sin? How does this still happen today?

2. In Romans 5, grace and hope are mentioned as gifts we receive when we have been “justified by faith” (i.e., when we’ve repented of our sins and sought forgiveness through Jesus). How do grace and hope quench our thirsts? How do they help us resist sin?

3. The woman at the well eagerly received what Jesus said. Even though he confronted her about her sins, she drank it all in and then, without shame, excitedly told others about her encounter with the Messiah. What need was filled by the truth? What does this teach about how we can help others hear the truth? – Read the source:

Reflection 13 – Our Thirst

On this Third Sunday of Lent, as later in the Fourth and Fifth Sunday, the Liturgy, instead of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, offers us three texts taken from the Gospel of St. John. They describe three meetings of Jesus:

  • the one with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, who receives the gift of the water that quenches thirst forever;
  • the one with the man born blind, who receives the light of the eyes and of the heart;
  • the one with his friend Lazarus, whom He resurrects.

The encounter with each of these three people highlights some particular aspects of the person of Jesus, Son of God, who gives life quenching thirst with “spiritual” water, giving light to see God and not just the world, and giving life to a friend, namely to each of us

1) Our thirst.

Because He is love, God thirsts to love and be loved while man, his creature, thirsts to be loved and to love. This thirst leads Christ to ask to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (see Jn 4, 7). The Son of God comes to us as a beggar in need of what we can give. “The greatest thing in the love of God is not the fact that he loves us, but the fact that he asks love, as if he could not be able to do without what we can give him. The one who is infinite, who is the eternal, the one who is self-sufficient rests on the brink of a well” (Father Divo Barsotti). The Samaritan woman represents the whole humanity, whose thirst for love cannot be satisfied by any man (the Samaritan woman had had six men).

Let’s try to imagine the scene of today’s Gospel: around noon a woman goes to Jacob’s well, which is located near to the village where she lives, to draw water and within minutes lands to the faith that her encounter with Christ arouses. Jesus is waiting for her at the well and he too expressed his wish. Faith is born from the meeting between two deep desires that “talk” to each other. The thirst of Christ reveals the secret of the thirst for this woman, who represents all of us.

Why does this woman come to faith and does it so quickly?

  • Because she agrees to a dialogue with Christ, who is waiting at the rim of the well. Because she comes to the well where she goes every day, and because every day her body is thirsty. The Samaritan woman is thirsty also and above all for love, and does not find it either exaggerating the love she already has, nor continually changing love (ahead of the five men she has already left and the one with whom she lives, now comes Christ, the one who is the “seventh”).
  • Because she gets thirsty not only for the water that quenches the body, but also for the one that quenches the thirst for truth, love, and justice. This “spiritual” thirst – in front of Jesus who says “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (Jn 4, 10) – pushes this woman to beg, saying: “Lord, give me this water” (Jn 4, 14).

This woman not only is the humanity alive at the time of the earthly life of Christ. She also represents the whole of humanity of all time, whose thirst is well expressed by these words: “O God, you are my God, for you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water”(Ps 63.2).

The thirst of man was not extinguished either then or ever: it is not extinguishable. In every human being there is the unavoidable question of meaning (understood as direction and taste of life) and opening to the Infinite. To this question of the infinite, the world responds with endless things that never fill the human heart that wants the infinite because it is capable of God. In this regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Chapter I, entitled Man is “capable” of God, reiterates the fact that the desire (that is the thirst) of God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God. God never ceases to draw man to himself and man, only in God, will find the truth and the happiness that he seeks without pause. The meaning of the human life consists in its vocation to communion with God, the source of joy.

If we were to ask those who do not yet know Christ, those who have not yet met him, even those who do not want to try, many would answer to be happy with their lot. They go to fetch water, but they do not need God. They go to the well to fetch water for the body, but do not notice that they have thirst for another water. The presence of Christ reveals to the soul its emptiness that only God’s infinite love can fill. Of this speaks the Blessed Charles de Foucauld who, in his meditation, talks about the sadness that earthly passions brought to him when, still an atheist, he believed to suffocate with trespasses the thirst for God, typical of man.

2) The thirst of Christ.

To answer the deep thirst that our spirit has, Christ puts one condition to donate himself. He begs an “offering”: that we give him water for his thirst. The water that he asks for to the Samaritan woman is an offering. Thanks to it, our hands and our hearts are open, and can thus receive much more, infinitely more.

Inspired by a painting by Duccio di Boninsegna that depicts Jesus sitting on the edge of a well, which is actually a solid marble baptismal font[1], and the Samaritan woman carrying on the head a delicately balanced fragile clay jug, I can write that Jesus needs our pitcher to draw into the well, that is, He need our freedom and our free love, that he redeems.

The spiritual journey of the Samaritan woman is proposed to us today. It is a route, that each of us is called to rediscover and to travel constantly. Even we, who are baptized, are always on the journey to become true Christians and this Gospel episode is an incentive to rediscover the importance and the meaning of our Christian life, the true desire of God that lives in us.

Proposing the Gospel of the Samaritan woman, the Church today wants to bring us to profess our faith in Christ, as this woman did, going out to announce and to testify to our brothers the joy of meeting Him and the marvels that his love accomplishes in our lives.

Faith is born from the encounter with Jesus, recognized and welcomed as a savior in whom the face of God is revealed. After the Lord has won the hearts of the Samaritan woman, her life is transformed, and she runs without delay to communicate the good news to her people. St. Augustine said that God thirsts for our thirst for Him, that is, He wants to be desired. The more the human being turns away from God, the more He pursues him with his merciful love.

Today, the Gospel urges us to review our relationship with Jesus and to seek his face tirelessly. “It is the desire that hollows our heart” (St. Augustine) and expands it. It is the desire that makes deep the heart and the “life of a good Christian is the holy desire” (St, Augustine).

A testimony of a good Christian life is that of consecrated virgins in the world, who mortify the thirst for human love to drink only the water of life that flows from Christ and to respond to his thirst.

The consecrated celibacy “is not lack of desire, but intensity of desire” (Saint Teresa of Avila). It is a vocation that expresses how you can live a life that is only quenched by God. This life given and therefore, fruitful, must be lived with an attitude of faith and spiritual joy, nourished by prayer. It must be lived with a detachment not only from marriage, but also from too limited fondness, to direct all energies, including the affective one, to the communion with Christ and with those who become close because of him.

The person living a consecrated virginity is a precious gift for the Church. In fact, she testifies the initial presence of the kingdom of God and the sure hope of its fulfillment and makes us more available to service. Finally let’s not forget that virginity does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes it, confirms it and defends it from a reductive interpretations. It reminds the spouses that they must live marriage as an anticipation and an image of the perfect communion with God. The “you” that everyone ultimately seeks, is God: the spouse can not satisfy the limitless desire for love, the true wedding is the one with God

Patristic reading: Saint John Chrysostom (344/354 – 407) Homily XXXII

[1] It is for this reference to baptism that today this text is chosen. Lent, above all in past centuries, was for the catechumens the time of preparation to the baptism received at Easter

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life.”

[1.] Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes “Fire,” sometimes “Water,” showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one Jn declares, speaking thus, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire” (Mt 3,11): the other, Christ, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7,38). “But this,” saith John, “spake He of the Spirit, which they should receive.” So also conversing with the woman, He calleth the Spirit water;1 for, “Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” So also He calleth the Spirit by the name of “fire,” alluding to the rousing and warming property of grace, and its power of destroying transgressions; but by that of “water,” to declare the cleansing wrought by it, and the great refreshment which it affordeth to those minds which receive it. And with good reason; for it makes the willing soul like some2 garden thick with all manner of trees fruitful and ever-flourishing, allowing it neither to feel despondency nor the plots of Satan, and quenches3 all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And observe, I pray you, the wisdom of Christ,4 how gently He leads on5 the woman; for He did not say at first, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink,” but when He had given her an occasion of calling Him “a Jew,” and brought her beneath the charge of having done so, repelling the accusation He saith, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him”; and having compelled her by His great promises to make mention6 of the Patriarch, He thus alloweth the woman to look through,7 and then when she objects, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” He saith not, “Yea, I am greater,” (for He would have seemed but to boast, since the proof did not as yet appear,) but by what He saith He effecteth this. For He said not simply, “I will give thee water,” but having first set that given by Jacob aside, He exalteth that given by Himself, desiring to show from the nature of the things given, how great is the interval and difference between the persons of the givers,8 and His own superiority to the Patriarch. “If,” saith He, “thou admirest Jacob because he gave thee this water, what wilt thou say if I give thee Water far better than this? Thou hast thyself been first to confess that I am greater than Jacob, by arguing against Me, and asking, ‘Art thou greater than Jacob, that thou promisest to give me better water?’ If thou receivest that Water, certainly thou wilt confess that I am greater.” Seest thou the upright judgment of the woman, giving her decision from facts, both as to the Patriarch, and as to Christ? The Jews acted not thus; when they even saw Him casting out devils, they not only did not call Him greater than the Patriarch but even said that He had a devil. Not so the woman, she draws her opinion whence Christ would have her, from the demonstration afforded by His works. For by these He justifieth Himself, saying, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, if ye believe not Me, believe the works.” (c. x. 37, 38). And thus the woman is brought over to the faith.

Wherefore also He, having heard, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob,” leaveth Jacob, and speaketh concerning the water, saying, “Whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again”; and He maketh His comparison, not by depreciating one, but by showing the excellence of the other; for He saith not, that “this water is naught,” nor “that it is inferior and contemptible,” but what even nature testifies that He saith: “Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the Water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” The woman before this had heard of “living Water” (v. 10), but had not known its meaning. Since because that water is called “living” which is perennial and bubbles up unceasingly from uninterrupted springs, she thought that this was the water meant. Wherefore He points out this more clearly by speaking thus, and establishing by a comparison the superiority (of the water which He would give). What then saith He? “Whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” This and what was said next especially showed the superiority, for material water possesses none of these qualities. And what is it that follows? “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” For as one that hath a well within him could never be seized by thirst, so neither can he that hath this Water.

The woman straightway believed, showing herself much wiser than Nicodemus, and not only wiser, but more manly. For he when he heard ten thousand such things neither invited any others to this hearing, nor himself spake forth openly; but she exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus, and drawing a whole city forth to Him. Nicodemus when he had heard said, “How can these things be?” And when Christ set before him a clear illustration, that of “the wind,” he did not even so receive the Word. But the woman not so; at first she doubted, but afterwards receiving the Word not by any regular demonstration, but in the form of an assertion, she straightway hastened to embrace it. For when Christ said, “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life,” immediately the woman saith,

Jn 4,15. “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

Seest thou how little by little she is led up to the highest doctrines? First she thought Him some Jew who was transgressing the Law; then when He had repelled that accusation, (for it was necessary that the person who was to teach9 her such things should not be suspected,) having heard of “living water,” she supposed that this was spoken of material water; afterwards, having learnt that the words were spiritual, she believed that the water could remove the necessity caused by thirst, but knew not yet what this could be; she still doubted, deeming it indeed to be above material things, but not being exactly informed. But here having gained a clearer insight, but not yet fully perceiving the whole, (for she saith, “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,”) she for the time preferreth Him to Jacob. “For” (saith she) “I need not this well if I receive from thee that water.” Seest thou how she setteth Him before the Patriarch? This is the act of a fairly-judging 10 soul. She had shown how great an opinion she had of Jacob, she saw One better than he, and was not held back by her prepossession. Thus this woman was neither of an easy temper, (she did not carelessly receive what was said, how can she have done so when she enquired with so great exactness? 11 ) nor yet disobedient, nor disputatious, and this she showed by her petition. Yet to the Jews once He said, “Whosoever shall eat of My flesh 12 shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (c. 6,35); but they not only did not believe, but were offended at Him. The woman had no such feeling, she remains and petitions. To the Jews He said, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst”; not so to the woman, but more grossly, “He that drinketh of this Water shall never thirst.” For the promise referred to spiritual and unseen 13 things. Wherefore having raised her mind by His promises, He still lingers among expressions relating to sense, because she could not as yet comprehend the exact expression of spiritual things. Since had He said, “If thou believest in Me thou shalt not thirst,” she would not have understood His saying, not knowing who it could be that spake to her, nor concerning what kind of thirst He spake. Wherefore then did He not this in the case of the Jews? Because they had seen many signs, while she had seen no sign, but heard these words first. For which reason He afterwards reveals His power by prophecy, and does not directly introduce His reproof, 14 but what saith He?

. “Go, call thy husband, and come thither. The woman answered and said I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a Prophet.”

[2.] O how great the wisdom of the woman! how meekly doth she receive the reproof! “How should she not,” saith some one? Tell me, why should she? Did He not often reprove the Jews also, and with greater reproofs than these? (for it is not the same to bring forward the hidden thoughts of the heart, as to make manifest a thing that was done in secret; the first are known to 15 God alone, and none other knoweth them but he who hath them in his heart; the second, all who were sharers in it know;) but still when reproved did not bear it patiently. When He said, “Why seek ye to kill me?” (c. 7,19), they not only did not admire as the woman did but even mocked at and insulted Him; yet they had a demonstration from other miracles, she had only heard this speech. Still they not only did not admire, but even insulted Him, saying, “Thou hast a demon, who seeketh to kill thee?” While she not only doth not insult but admires, and is astonished at Him, and supposes Him to be a Prophet. Yet truly this rebuke touched the woman more than the other touched them; for her fault was hers alone, theirs was a general one; and we are not so much stung by what is general as by what is particular. Besides they thought they should be gaining a great object if they could slay Christ, but that which the woman had done was allowed by all to be wicked; yet was she not indignant, but was astonished and wondered. And Christ did this very same thing in the case of Nathanael. He did not at first introduce the prophecy, nor say, “I saw thee under the fig-tree,” but when Nathanael said, “Whence knowest thou me?” then He introduced this. For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached 16 by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He doth here also; for to have charged her first of all that, “Thou hast no husband,” would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer.

“And what kind of connection,” saith some one, “is there in the saying, ‘Go, call thy husband’?” The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ saith, “Call thy husband,” showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive 17 (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, “I have no husband.” Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom 18 she now would hide. What then did the woman? she was not annoyed, nor did she leave Him and fly, nor deem the thing an insult, but rather admired Him, and persevered the more. “I perceive,” saith she, “that Thou art a Prophet.” Observe her prudence; she did not straightway run to Him, but still considers Him, and marvels at Him. For, “I perceive,” means, “Thou appearest to me to be a Prophet.” Then when she suspected this, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, not concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines. For what saith she?

Jn 4,20. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,” (meaning Abraham and his family, for thither they say that he led up his son,) “and how say ye 19 that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship?”

[3.] Seest thou how much more elevated in mind she has become? She who was anxious that she might not be troubled for thirst, now questions concerning doctrines. What then doth Christ? He doth not resolve the question, (for to answer simply to men’s words was not His care, for it was needless, 20 ) but leads the woman on to the greater height, and doth not converse with her on these matters, until she has confessed that He was a Prophet, so that afterwards she might hear His Word with abundant belief; for having been persuaded of this, she could no longer doubt concerning what should be said to her.

Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book 21 in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given 22 at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts. 23 And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it may be purified when it receiveth the meaning of the writing. 24 For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, 25 ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. The Scriptures 26 are divine charms, let us then apply to ourselves and 27 to the passions of our souls the remedies to be derived from them. For if we understand what it is that is read, we shall hear it with much readiness. I am always saying this, and will not cease to say it. Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If thou pursuest those worldly things for pleasure, I will show thee that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of thy race victorious? These wrestlings let us look on, these, which also it is seemly and profitable to imitate, and which imitating, we may be 28 crowned; but not those in which emulation brings shame to him who imitates them. If thou beholdest the one kind of contest, thou beholdest it with devils; the other, with Angels and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels. Say now, if thou wert allowed to sit with governors and kings, and to see and enjoy the spectacle, wouldest thou not deem it to be a very great honor? And here when thou art a spectator in company with the King of Angels, when thou seest the devil grasped by the middle of the back, 29 striving much to have the better, but powerless, dost thou not run and pursue after such a sight as this? “And how can this be?” saith some one. If thou keep the Bible in thy hands; for in it thou shalt see the lists, and the long races, and his grasps, 30 and the skill of the righteous one. For by beholding these things thou shalt learn also how to wrestle so thyself, and shalt escape clear of devils; the performances of the heathen are assemblies of devils, not theaters of men. Wherefore I exhort you to abstain from these Satanic assemblies; 31 for if it is not lawful to enter into an idol’s house, much less to Satan’s festival. I shall not cease to say these things and weary you, until I see some change; for to say these things, as saith Paul, “to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Ph 3,1). Be not then offended at my exhortation. If any one ought to be offended, it is I who often speak and am not heard, not you who are always hearing and always disobeying. God grant that you be not always liable to this charge, but that freed from this shame you be deemed worthy to enjoy the spiritual spectacle, 32 and the glory which is to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1 al). “saith the same now.”
2 al). “some flourishing.”
3 al). “as quenching easily.”
4 al). “of God.”
5 al). “leads up.”
6 or, “to remember.”
7 or, “see clearly.”
8 al). “things given.”
9 kathcei`n.
10 eujgnwmono”.
11 al). “readiness.”
12 oJ ejrcovmeno” prov” me, G. T).
13 al). “not finite.”
14 e]legcon.
15 or, “is the work of.”
16 oijkeiou`sqai.
17 al). “to be hidden.”
18 al). “the thing which.”
19 kai; uJm. levgete, G. T.
20 parevlkon).
21 puktivon.
22 al). “this Law was not given.”
23 i.e. on the Day of Pentecost.
24 al). “the reality of the matters.”
25 lit). “nature of sin.”
26 al). “the actions,” i.e. of the Gospel.
27 Morel). [let us prepare].
28 al, “it were meet to be.”
29 Morel). “beholding the devil shamed by means of the Divine oracles, and greatly striving.” Below Morel. reads, “run to such a sight.”
30 skavmmata, diauvlou”, laba;”, terms of the wrestling school). skavmma, the place dug out for the exercise, hence the exercise itself). divaulo”, the double course). labh;, the gripe of the wrestler. Thus of Job, on Stat. Hom. 1,16; of the Three Children, ib. Hom. 4,8, &c.
31 This clause is not found in Ben).
32 al). “of the Eternal Goods.” – Read the source:

Reflection 14 – On the living water

The Gospel of this Sunday, the Third of Lent, presents to us Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:5-42). The encounter happened while Jesus was going through Samaria, the region between Judea and Galilee, inhabited by people that the Jews scorned, considering them schismatic and heretical. However, this population would be, in fact, one of the first to adhere to the Apostles’ Christian preaching. While the disciples went to the village to get something to eat, Jesus stayed by the well and asked a woman, who had come there to draw water, for a drink. And from this request, a dialogue began. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” Jesus answered: If you knew who I am, and the gift I have for you, you would have asked and I would give you “living water,” water that slakes all thirst and becomes an inexhaustible source in the heart of the one who drinks it (vv. 10-14).

To go to the well to draw water is tiring and tedious; it would be good to have a gushing source available! However, Jesus is talking about different water. When the woman realizes that the man with whom she is speaking is a prophet, she told Him about her life and asked him religious questions. The five husbands she had had did not extinguish her thirst for affection and a full life; rather, she experienced disappointments and deceits. Therefore, the woman was struck by the great respect that Jesus had for her and when He, in fact, speaks to her of the true faith as a relation with God the Father “in spirit and in truth,” then she intuits that the man might be the Messiah, and Jesus – something very rare – confirms it: “I who speak to you am He” (v. 26). He says He is the Messiah to a woman who had such a disordered life.

Dear brothers, the water that gives eternal life was effused in our heart on the day of our Baptism; then God transformed and filled us with His grace. However, it could happen that we have forgotten this great gift, or reduced it to mere personal data; and perhaps we are going in search of “wells” whose waters do not slake us. When we forget the true water, we go in search of wells that do not have clean water. Then this Gospel is precisely for us! Not only for the Samaritan woman, <but> for us. Jesus speaks to us as He did to the Samaritan woman. We already know Him, of course, but perhaps we have not yet encountered Him personally, talking with him, and have not yet recognized Him as our Savior. This Season of Lent is a good occasion to come close to Him, to encounter Him in prayer in a heart-to-heart dialogue, to talk with Him, to listen to Him; it is a good occasion to see His face also in the face of a suffering brother or sister. In this way we can renew in ourselves the grace of Baptism, slake <our thirst> at the source of the Word of God and of His Holy Spirit, and thus discover also the joy of becoming architects of reconciliation and instruments of peace in daily life.

May the Virgin Mary help us to draw constantly from the grace, from the water that gushes from the rock that is Christ the Savior, so that we can profess our faith with conviction and proclaim with joy the wonders of the love of God, merciful and source of every good. – Read the source:

Reflection 15 – St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a “just” man. The quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.

When the Bible speaks of God “justifying” someone, it means that God, the all-holy or “righteous” One, so transforms a person that the individual shares somehow in God’s own holiness, and hence it is really “right” for God to love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are not.

By saying Joseph was “just,” the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.

The rest we can easily surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they shared during their marriage.

It is no contradiction of Joseph’s manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this “quietly” because he was “a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame” (Matthew 1:19).

The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God—in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage.


The Bible tells us nothing of Joseph in the years after the return to Nazareth except the incident of finding Jesus in the Temple (see Luke 2:41–51). Perhaps this can be taken to mean that God wants us to realize that the holiest family was like every other family, that the circumstances of life for the holiest family were like those of every family, so that when Jesus’ mysterious nature began to appear, people couldn’t believe that he came from such humble beginnings: “Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary…?” (Matthew 13:55a). It was almost as indignant as “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46b).


“He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord’” (St. Bernardine of Siena).

Patron Saint of:

Happy death
Social justice
Universal Church

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Joseph did as the angel commanded him

Are you prepared to obey the Lord in everything? Faith in God’s word and obedience to his commands go hand in hand. Joseph, like Mary, is a model of faith and justice. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a “just man”. John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), a gifted preacher and bishop of Constantinople, comments on the great virtue we see in Joseph which qualified him to be a worthy guardian and foster father for the child Jesus:

“The concept of ‘just’ here signifies the man who possesses all the virtues. By ‘justice’ one at times understands only one virtue in particular, as in the phrase: the one who is not avaricious (greedy) is just. But ‘justice’ also refers to virtue in general. And it is in this sense, above all, that scripture uses the word ‘justice’. For example, it refers to: a just man and true (cf. Job 1:1), or the two were just (cf. Luke 1:6). Joseph, then, being just, that is to say good and charitable…”

Joseph believed and obeyed God’s instruction
Joseph’s faith was put to the test when he discovered that his espoused wife Mary was pregnant. Joseph, being a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass, punish, or expose Mary to harm. To all outward appearances it looked as if she had broken their solemn pledge to be chaste and faithful to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt or anger.

God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah, who is both the only begotten Son of God and son of Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph is a man of faith and fatherly care
Joseph was a worthy successor to the great patriarchs of the old covenant – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joseph followed the call of God through the mysterious circumstances that surrounded the coming of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who fulfilled all the promises made to Abraham and his offspring. God entrusted this silent, humble man with the unique privilege of raising, protecting, teaching, and training Jesus as a growing child. Joseph accepted his role of fatherly care with faith, trust, and obedience to the will of God. He is a model for all who are entrusted with the care, instruction, and protection of the young. Joseph is a faithful witness and servant of God’s unfolding plan of redemption.

The Lord guides and strengthens all who trust in him
Are you ready to put your trust in the Lord to give you his help and guidance in fulfilling your responsibilities? God gives strength and guidance to those who seek his help, especially when we face trials, doubts, fears, perplexing circumstances, and what seems like insurmountable problems and challenges in our personal lives. God our heavenly Father has not left us alone, but has given us his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be our savior, teacher, lord, and healer. Where do you need God’s help, strength, and guidance? Ask the Lord to increase your faith and trust in his promises and in his guiding hand in your life.

“Lord Jesus, you came to free us from the power of sin, fear, and death, and to heal and restore us to wholeness of life. May I always trust in your saving help, guidance, wisdom, and plan for my life.” – Read the source:

St. Joseph and the river’s lesson

What lesson can we get from the life of St. Joseph? Here’s a group of students who reflected on the life of St. Joseph during their recollection besides the river and asked their teacher, “Why do you just stand at the river’s edge for a longer time and stare at the water? What did you see there?”

He did not immediately answer. Nor did he look away from the continuously flowing stream. Finally he spoke up with, “Flowing water teaches us how to live:

“Wherever it flows it brings life and shares itself with everyone who needs it. A river is kind and generous.

“It knows how to level off the unevenness of the landscape. It is just and fair.

“It throws itself over cliffs into the depths of the valleys without even slowing down. It is courageous.

“Its surface is flat and smooth, but underneath it can hide churning current. A river is wise.

“It flows around rocks that hinder its progress. A river is tolerant.

“But at the same time it works day and night to get that hindrance out of its way. A river is tireless.

“No matter how many windings and detours it must make, it never loses sight of its goal: the sea. A river is single-minded.

“No matter how often it gets dirty, it keeps on trying to get clean again. A river is able to keep renewing itself.

“Those are my reasons for staring at the flowing river. It teaches me to live correctly.

Comparatively, St. Joseph is like a river we can learn at. When he faced difficult problems, he led his pregnant wife on a long journey to Bethlehem, found a place for her to have a baby and fled his family to Egypt. He did his duty, simply, faithfully, loyally, dependably. To that extent, Joseph speaks to everyone to us now: do what you can do to be caring, compassionate and helpful. Stay loyal and faithful to your beliefs and convictions. Do your duty. You make this world a better place.

St. Joseph was a dreamer. He dreamed of a savior Jesus and followed to the end. As such Joseph speaks to us who desperately dreams that things could be better. He reminds us to cherish and hold on to our dreams. Have faith. Look: Mary of Nazareth became a queen of heaven. Joseph, the dreamer eventually emerged from the shadows and the whole world now knows him as St. Joseph. So have faith in God. Remember Joseph. Cherish your dreams.

Joseph had swallowed his pride. He lost himself in obedience to the greater good, to God. He had struggle with doubts and desperately search for answers. He lost his wife to God. But again, he also knew that God would have the last word, that God in time could make loss the very conditions of compassion, service and growth. He knew that, although scars would remain, and grief would now and then openly assert itself, loss could be the seeding place of quiet greatness.

St. Joseph, our role model is a man for our seasons. Let St. Joseph’s steadfastness and example be yours.



I should have written this yesterday, for the feast of St. Joseph, but it didn’t occur to me to do so until this morning.

St. Joseph is one of a small handful of Saints that I’ve felt a kind of personal connection to. There are Saints that I like and that I pray to as distant figures in heaven, historical personages who I admire and wish to imitate, writers whose works I find illuminating or inspiring. Then there are a few that sometimes seem…there’s no word for it except “present.” St. Joseph is one of those.

Generally I encounter him when I’m most fed up with my marriage and with men generally. When I just want to get away and live the independent feminist dream. When I feel like I’ve been patient enough and have put up with enough and I’m through. That’s when St. Joe shows up.

So, yesterday there was a meme circulating for his feast day with the caption: My favourite St. Joseph quote: ”          ”

It had never occurred to me before, but yes. With other Saints that I’ve felt to be present in some particular trial or need, I’ve always had a sense of words. Therese of Lisieux offering friendship. St. Lawrence making fun of me for taking myself too seriously. Gerard Manley Hopkins playing with the plasticity of whatever it is that serves for language in Heaven (that one was kind of mind-blowing and sadly my attempts to explain or describe it in dull, quotidian old English have never come even close to capturing it. And yes, I do know that GMH is not a canonized saint.)

With St. Joseph, always silence. Just being there. Steady. Reliable. Considerate. No, more than just steady. Steadying.

St. Joseph is probably, more than anyone, the person who has convinced me that masculinity does not have to be toxic or oppressive. It doesn’t have to be about being in control, or asserting authority, or proving oneself to other men. St. Joe is definitely not a coward. He’s not lukewarm. He’s not a sentimental milquetoast. But he’s also not a swaggerer. When his family is threatened, he doesn’t get himself a sword so that he can fantasize about taking down Herod. He quietly moves them to a safer place in the night. His concern is not to look cool and impress other guys, it’s to do what will actually keep his family safest.

When he finds out that his bride-to-be is pregnant, in spite of the fact that he lives in a highly patriarchal society and tongues are bound to wag, he thinks “How can I deal with this quietly and mercifully?” The fact that he would naturally presume that she had cheated on him almost disappears from the text. His masculine ego is not front and center. This is not about proving that Joseph is a man, and that he will be respected. There’s no evidence that he tried to figure out who had been taking his woman behind his back, or that he had any particular desire for revenge. Instead he Bible tells us that he had two concerns: first, to obey the law. Second, to avoid disgracing her.

St. Joseph’s masculinity is not self-assertive. It’s the kind of masculinity that St. Paul calls for when he tells husbands that they “ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” (Eph 5:28) A masculinity that is focused on the needs of others rather than the gratification of desire, appetites and ego. You can’t imagine St. Joseph bragging to his buddies, or making demeaning comments about women, bullying catamites, or hiding out in his mancave with a stash of pornographic papyrus. When the Angel says, “So, Joe, God impregnated your wife. Don’t be afraid to go ahead and marry her,” he doesn’t bristle or get offended. He doesn’t drown his sorrows at the bar, or go out and blow a bunch of money on a hot new chariot to prove that he’s still the man. He’s a one donkey guy — and his pregnant wife gets to ride the donkey.

He also doesn’t seem to be someone who needs to constantly talk about himself, much less someone who needs to talk over others. People often marvel at how little Mary says in the Gospels. St. Joseph says nothing. We know him only by his actions, which basically involve obeying God and taking care of others.
From a worldly point of view, St. Joseph fails as a man. He is not wealthy. He doesn’t fight the bad guys and win. He flees under cover of darkness. He’s a cuckhold. He doesn’t assert his sexual rights over Mary. He’s not a stud. He doesn’t show off his intelligence. Most of what he does can be described using words that have historically been attributed to femininity: silence, caring, consideration, submission, obedience,humility.This is a masculinity that I can respect. A masculinity that safeguards, supports, upholds, behaves with quiet courage and makes no bid for the limelight. A masculinity that doesn’t need to attack womanhood or forcefully assert its strength or superiority. A masculinity which is deeply Christian and deeply traditional, and yet which bears little resemblance to much of the chauvinist crap that often presents itself as authentic Christian manhood.
Image detail “St. Joseph the Carpenter” by Georges de La Tour – Web Gallery of Art: Image  Info about artwork image, Public Domain,

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

For other uses, see Saint Joseph (disambiguation).
“San Giuseppe” redirects here. For other uses, see San Giuseppe (disambiguation).
Guido Reni - St Joseph with the Infant Jesus - WGA19304.jpg

Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (c. 1635)
BORN Bethlehem,[1] c. 90 BC (apocryphal date)[1]
DIED Nazareth, July 20, AD 18[1] (aged 72, apocryphal date)
VENERATED IN Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism,Methodism, Eastern Orthodox Church,Oriental Orthodox Church
FEAST March 19 – Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary (Western Christianity), May 1 – St Joseph the Worker (Roman Catholic Church),The Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord (Eastern Christianity)
ATTRIBUTES Carpenter’s square or tools, the infant Jesus, staff with lily blossoms, two turtle doves, rod of spikenard.
PATRONAGE Catholic Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, employment, carpenters, realtors, against doubt and hesitation, and of a happy death, Canada, Croatia, Korea,Vietnam, Mandaue City, Cebu,Philippines, and many others.

Joseph (Hebrew יוֹסֵף, Yosef; Greek: Ἰωσήφ, Ioseph) is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is venerated as Saint Joseph in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church,Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism[2][3] and Methodism.[4][5] Christian tradition places Joseph as Jesus‘ foster father.[1] Some historians state that Joseph was Jesus’s father.[6][7][8] Some differing views are due to theological interpretations versus historical views.[6]

The Pauline epistles make no reference to Jesus’s father; nor does the Gospel of Mark.[9] The first appearance of Joseph is in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each contains a genealogy of Jesus showing ancestry from kingDavid, but through different sons; Matthew follows the major royal line from Solomon, while Luke traces another line back to Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba. Consequently, all the names between David and Joseph are different. According to Matthew 1:16 “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary”, while according toLuke 3:23, Joseph is said to be “[the son] of Heli“. Some scholars[who?] reconcile the genealogies by viewing the Solomonic lineage in Matthew as Joseph’s major royal line, and the Nathanic lineage in Luke to be Mary’s minor line.[10][11]

In Catholic and other traditions, Joseph is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions. With the growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centers for studying it have been formed.[12][13]

In the New Testament[edit]

St. Joseph by Guido Reni

The epistles of Paul are generally regarded as the oldest extant Christian writings. These mention Jesus’s mother (without naming her), but do not refer to his father. The Book of Mark, the first gospel to be written with a date about two decades after Paul, also does not mention Jesus’s father.[9] Joseph first appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, both dating from around 80-90 AD. The issue of reconciling the two accounts has been the subject of debate.

Like the two differing genealogies, the infancy narratives appear only in Matthew and Luke, and take different approaches to reconciling the requirement that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem with the tradition that Jesus came from Nazareth. In Matthew, Joseph obeys the direction of an angel to marry Mary. Following the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Joseph and family stay in Bethlehem for an unspecified period (perhaps two years)[14] until after the visit of the Three Magi, when Joseph is told by an angel in a dream to take the family to Egypt to escape the massacre of the children of Bethlehem planned by Herod the Great, who rules Judea. Once Herod has died, an angel tells him to return, but to avoid Herod’s son he takes his wife and the child to Nazareth in Galilee and settles there. Thus in Matthew, the infant Jesus, like Moses, is in peril from a cruel king, like Moses he has a (fore)father named Joseph who goes down to Egypt, like the Old Testament Joseph this Joseph has a father named Jacob, and both Josephs receive important dreams foretelling their future.[9]

In Luke, Joseph already lives in Nazareth, and Jesus is born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary have to travel there to be counted in a census. Subsequently, Jesus was born there. Luke’s account makes no mention of angels and dreams, the Massacre of the Innocents, or of a visit to Egypt.

The last time Joseph appears in person in any Gospel is the story of the Passover visit to the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus is 12 years old, found only in Luke. No mention is made of him thereafter.[15]The story emphasises Jesus’s awareness of his coming mission: here Jesus speaks to his parents (both of them) of “my father,” meaning God, but they fail to understand.(Luke 2:41-51).

Christian tradition represents Mary as a widow during the adult ministry of her son. Joseph is not mentioned as being present at the Wedding at Cana at the beginning of Jesus’s mission, nor at the Passion at the end. If he had been present at theCrucifixion, he would under Jewish custom have been expected to take charge of Jesus’s body, but this role is instead performed by Joseph of Arimathea. Nor would Jesus have entrusted his mother to the care of John the Apostle if her husband was alive.[1]

While none of the Gospels mentions Joseph as present at any event during Jesus’s adult ministry, the synoptic Gospelsshare a scene in which the people of Nazareth, Jesus’s hometown, doubt Jesus’s status as a prophet because they know his family. In Mark 6:3, they call Jesus “Mary’s son” instead of naming his father. In Matthew, the townspeople call Jesus “the carpenter’s son,” again without naming his father. (Matthew 13:53-55) In Luke 3:23 “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli.”(Luke 4:16-30) In Luke the tone is positive, whereas in Mark and Matthew it is disparaging.[16]This incident does not appear at all in John, but in a parallel story the disbelieving neighbors refer to “Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know” (John 6:41-51).

Gospel harmony[edit]

Joseph is mentioned only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Since both these draw their narrative of Jesus’ life from Mark, which offers no information on Jesus’ parentage, they must both have taken their versions of the Joseph from some other source.

1 Joseph lived in Nazareth Luke 2:4
2 Genealogy of Jesus Matthew 1:1-17Solomon to Jacob Luke 3:23 Nathan to Heli
3 Joseph Betrothed to Mary Matthew 1:18
4 Angel visits Joseph (1st dream) Matthew 1:20-21
5 Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem Luke 2:8-15
6 Birth of Jesus Matthew 1:25 Luke 2:6-7
7 Temple presentation Luke 2:22-24
8 Angel tells Joseph to flee (2nd dream) Matthew 2:13
9 Flight into Egypt Matthew 2:14-15
10 Angel tells Joseph to return to Nazareth (3rd dream) Matthew 2:19-20
11 Joseph and family settle in Nazareth Matthew 2:21-23 Luke 2:39
12 Finding Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:41-51
13 Holy Family John 6:41-42


Holy Family with the Holy Spirit byMurillo, 1675-1682.

Joseph as the father of Jesus appears in Luke and in a “variant reading in Matthew”.[6] Matthew and Luke both contain agenealogy of Jesus showing ancestry from king David, but through different sons; Matthew follows the major royal line fromSolomon, while Luke traces another line back to Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba. Consequently, all the names between David and Joseph are different. According to Matthew 1:16 “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary”, while according to Luke 3:23, Joseph is said to be “the son of Heli“. Some scholars reconcile the genealogies by viewing the Solomonic lineage in Matthew as Joseph’s major royal line, and the Nathanic lineage in Luke to be Mary’s minor line.[10][11]

Professional life[edit]

St. Joseph the Carpenter, byGeorges de La Tour, 1640s.

The gospels describe Joseph as a “tekton” (τέκτων). Tekton has been traditionally translated into English as “carpenter”, but is a rather general word (from the same root that gives us “technical” and “technology”) that could cover makers of objects in various materials.[17] The Greek term evokes an artisan with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone.[18] But the specific association with woodworking is a constant in Early Christian tradition; Justin Martyr (died c. 165) wrote that Jesus made yokes and ploughs, and there are similar early references.[19]

John Dominic Crossan puts tekton into a historical context more resembling an itinerant worker than an established artisan, emphasizing his marginality in a population in which a landowning peasant could become quite prosperous. Other scholars have argued that tekton could equally mean a highly skilled craftsman in wood or the more prestigious metal, perhaps running a workshop with several employees, and noted sources recording the shortage of skilled artisans at the time.[20] Geza Vermes has stated that the terms ‘carpenter’ and ‘son of a carpenter’ are used in the Jewish Talmud to signify a very learned man, and he suggests that a description of Joseph as ‘naggar’ (a carpenter) could indicate that he was considered wise and highly literate in the Torah.[21]

At the time of Joseph, Nazareth was an obscure village in Galilee, about 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is barely mentioned in surviving non-Christian texts and documents.[22][23][24][25] Archaeology over most of the site is made impossible by subsequent building, but from what has been excavated and tombs in the area around the village, it is estimated that the population was at most about 400.[26] It was, however, only about 6 kilometres from the city of Tzippori (ancient “Sepphoris”), which was destroyed by the Romans in 4 BC, and thereafter was expensively rebuilt. Analysis of the landscape and other evidence suggest that in Joseph’s lifetime Nazareth was “oriented towards” the nearby city,[27] which had an overwhelmingly Jewish population although with many signs of Hellenization,[28] and historians have speculated that Joseph and later Jesus too might have traveled daily to work on the rebuilding. Specifically the large theatre in the city has been suggested, although this has aroused much controversy over dating and other issues.[29] Other scholars see Joseph and Jesus as the general village craftsmen, working in wood, stone and metal on a wide variety of jobs.[30]

Modern appraisal[edit]

Holy Family by Gregorio Fernández(1636)

The name “Joseph” is found almost exclusively in the genealogies and the infancy narratives.[31][32] The variances between the genealogies given in Matthew and Luke are explained in a number of ways, although one possibility is that Matthew’s genealogy traces his legal descent, according to Jewish law, through St. Joseph; while Luke’s genealogy traces his actual physical descent through Mary.[10][11]

Modern positions on the question of the relationship between Joseph and the Virgin Mary vary. The Eastern Orthodox Church, which names Joseph’s first wife as Salome, holds that Joseph was a widower and merely betrothed, but never married, to Mary,[33] and that references to Jesus’s “brothers” are to children of Joseph and Salome. The position of theCatholic Church, derived from the writings of Saint Jerome, is that Joseph was the husband of Mary, but that references to Jesus’s “brothers” should be understood to mean cousins or step-brothers. In both cases, the church doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity means that Joseph and Mary never had sexual relations. The Protestant churches, following the tenet of Virgin Birth but not that of Perpetual Virginity, hold no strong views on the subject.[34]

The term “betrothal” is an awkward translation of kiddushin; according to the Jewish law those called “betrothed” were actually husband and wife.[35][36][37]

Later apocryphal writings[edit]

Holy Family with bird, by Murillo

The canonical gospels created a problem: they stated clearly that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, and that Joseph was not his father; yet Joseph’s paternity was essential to establish Jesus’s Davidic descent. The theological situation was complicated by the gospel references to Jesus’s “brothers and sisters” (repeated in Paul, where James is called the “brother of Christ”), and by the fact that Jesus was described unambiguously by John and Mark as “Joseph’s son” and “the carpenter’s son.”[38] From the 2nd century to the 5th writers tried to explain how Jesus could be simultaneously the “son of God” and the “son of Joseph”.[38]

The first to offer a solution was the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James, written about 150 AD. The original gospels never refer to Joseph’s age, but the author presents him as an old man chosen by lot (i.e., by God) to watch over the Virgin. Jesus’s brothers are presented as Joseph’s children by an earlier marriage, and his years and righteousness explain why he has not yet had sex with his wife: “I received her by lot as my wife, and she is not yet my wife, but she has conceived by the Holy Spirit.”[39]

The Protoevangelium was extremely popular, but it leaves open the possibility that Joseph might have had relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus (“she is not yet my wife…”). A few centuries later the developing doctrine that Mary was a virgin not only at the time of the conception and birth of Christ, but throughout her life, meant that this possibility had to be excluded. The apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter, written in the 5th century and framed as a biography of Joseph dictated by Jesus, describes how Joseph, aged 90 (the Protoevangelium had not given Joseph a specific age), a widower with four sons and two daughters, is given charge of the twelve-year-old Mary, who then lives in his household raising his youngest son James the Less (the supposed author of the Protoevangelium) until she is ready to be married at age 14½. Joseph’s death at the age of 111, attended by angels and asserting the perpetual virginity of Mary, takes up approximately half the story.[40]


Nativity by Martin Schongauer(1475–80)

The earliest records of a formal devotional following for Saint Joseph date to the year 800 and references to him as nutritor Domini (educator/guardian of the Lord) began to appear in the 9th century, and continued growing to the 14th century.[41][42][43] Saint Thomas Aquinas discussed the necessity of the presence of Saint Joseph in the plan of the Incarnation for if Mary had not been married, the Jews would have stoned her and that in his youth Jesus needed the care and protection of a human father.[44][45]

In the 15th century, major steps were taken by Saint Bernardine of Siena, Pierre d’Ailly and Jean Gerson.[41] Gerson wroteConsideration sur Saint Joseph and preached sermons on Saint Joseph at the Council of Constance.[46] In 1889 Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Quamquam pluries in which he urged Catholics to pray to Saint Joseph, as the patron of the Church in view of the challenges facing the Church.[47]

Josephology, the theological study of Saint Joseph, is one of the most recent theological disciplines.[48] In 1989, on the occasion of the centenary of Quamquam pluries Pope John Paul II issued Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer), which presented Saint Joseph’s role in the plan of redemption, as part of the “redemption documents” issued by John Paul II such as Redemptoris Mater to which it refers.[49][50][51][52]

Together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, Joseph is one of the three members of the Holy Family; since he only appears in the birth narratives of the Gospels, Jesus is depicted as a child when with him. The formal veneration of the Holy Family began in the 17th century by François de Laval.

Pope John XXIII added the name of Joseph to the Canon of the Mass. Pope Francis had his name added to the three other Eucharistic Prayers.[53]

Feast days[edit]

Main article: St Joseph’s Day

St Joseph by William Dyce (1806–1864)

March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day, has been the principal feast day of Saint Joseph in Western Christianity[54][55] since the 10th century, and is celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, many Lutherans and other denominations.[56] In Eastern Orthodoxy, the feast day of Saint Joseph is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Nativity of Christ. In the Roman Catholic church, the Feast of St. Joseph (19 March) is a Solemnity (first class if using the Tridentine calendar), and is transferred to another date if impeded (i.e., 19 March falling on Sunday or in Holy Week).

In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal Church and instituted another feast, with an octave, to be held in his honour on Wednesday in the second week after Easter. This was abolished by Pope Pius XII, when in 1955 he established the Feast of “St. Joseph the Worker”, to be celebrated on 1 May. This date counteracts May Day (International Workers’ Day), a union, workers’, and socialists’ holiday commemorating the Haymarket affair in Chicago, and reflects Joseph’s status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider the “patron of workers” and “model of workers.” Catholic and other Christian teachings and stories about or relating to Joseph and the Holy Family frequently stress his patience, persistence, courage, and hard work.

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (1 May) is an Optional Memorial, and so is omitted if impeded, unless the day is raised to a higher rank because St. Joseph is the patron of the church, diocese, place, or institution. (However, the 1 May celebration is 1st class in the Tridentine calendar, so in it St. Joseph the Worker was celebrated on 2 May in 2008 because 1 May was Ascension Thursday and in 2011 because 1 May was in the Easter octave.)


San Giuseppe

Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870. Having died in the “arms of Jesus and Mary” according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, in other words, the patron of a happy death.[57]

Saint Joseph is the patron saint of a number of cities, regions and countries, among them the Americas, Canada, China,Croatia, Mexico, Korea, Austria, Belgium, Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.

Places, churches and Institutions[edit]

Many cities, towns, and locations are named after Saint Joseph. According to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Spanish form, San Jose, is the most common place name in the world. Probably the most-recognized San Joses are San José, Costa Rica, and San Jose, California, United States, given their name by Spanish colonists. Joseph is the patron saint of the New World; of the countries China, Canada, Korea, Mexico,Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; of the regions Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Sicily; and of several main cities and dioceses.

Many churches, monasteries and other institutions are dedicated to Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph’s Oratory is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Elsewhere in the world churches named after the saint may be known as those of San Giuseppe, e.g. San Giuseppe dei Teatini, San José, e.g. Metropolitan Cathedral of San José or São José, e.g. in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were founded as an order in 1650 and have about 14,013 members worldwide. In 1871, the Josephite Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church were created under the patronage of Joseph, intending to work with the poor. The first Josephites in America re-devoted their part of the Order to ministry within the newly emancipated African American community. TheOblates of St. Joseph were founded in 1878 by St. Joseph Marello. In 1999 their Shrine of Saint Joseph the Guardian of the Redeemer was named after the Apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos.[58]

Prayers and devotions[edit]

Altar of St. Joseph,Billafingen, Germany.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, during the feast day of Saint Joseph the following hymn is chanted:

Verily, Joseph the betrothed, saw clearly in his old age that the foresayings of the Prophets had
been fulfilled openly; for he was given an odd earnest,
receiving inspiration from the angels,
who cried, Glory to God; for he hath bestowed peace on earth.

In the Catholic tradition, just as there are prayers for the Seven Joys of Mary and Seven Sorrows of Mary, so there are also prayers for the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph; these include prayers for daily protection, vocation, happy marriage, happy death, and hopeless cases;[59] specific prayers, novenas and devotions include the Prayer to Saint Joseph and the Novena to Saint Joseph.[60]St. Francis de Sales included Saint Joseph along with Virgin Mary as saints to be invoked during prayers in hisIntroduction to the Devout Life,[61] Saint Teresa of Avila attributed her recovery of health to Saint Joseph and recommended him as an advocate,[62] and Saint Therese of Lisieux stated that for a period of time, every day she prayed to “Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins…” and felt safe and protected from danger as a result,[63] and Pius X composed a prayer to Saint Joseph which begins:[64]

Glorious St. Joseph, pattern of all who are devoted to toil,
obtain for me the grace to toil, in the spirit of penance,
in order to thereby atone for my many sins…

There is a belief that planting a statue of St. Joseph on a house will help sell the house.[65] This belief is held by some theists as well as atheists, but traditional Christian teachings view it as superstition and not a devotion.[66]

In art[edit]

Jusepe de Ribera, Saint Joseph with the Flowering Rod. early 1630s. Ribera conveys the unexpected wonder of the moment with the lighting from above and the aged Joseph’s questioning hand gesture. Brooklyn Museum

Up to about the 17th century Joseph tends to be depicted as a man advanced in years, with grey hair, often balding, occasionally frail, a comparatively marginal figure alongside Mary and Jesus if not entirely in the background, passive other than when leading them on their flight to Egypt. Joseph is shown mostly with a beard, not only in keeping with Jewish custom, but also because – although the Gospel accounts do not give his age – later literature tends to present him as an old man at the time of his wedding to Mary. This depiction arose to allay concerns about both the celibacy of the newly wedded couple,[citation needed] the mention of brothers and sisters of Jesus in the canonical Gospels,[67] and Joseph’s other children spoken of in apocryphal literature – concerns discussed very frankly by Jean Gerson for example, who nonetheless favoured showing him as a younger man.[68]

In recent centuries – in step with a growing interest in Joseph’s role in Gospel exegesis – he himself has become a focal figure in representations of the Holy Family. He is now often portrayed as a younger or even youthful man (perhaps especially in Protestant depictions), whether going about his work as a carpenter, or participating actively in the daily life of Mary and Jesus as an equal and openly affectionate member.[69] Art critic Waldemar Januszczak however emphasises the preponderance of Joseph’s representation as an old man and sees this as the need, ” to explain away his impotence: indeed to symbolise it. In Guido Reni‘s Nativity, Mary is about 15, and he is about 70 – for the real love affair – is the one between the Virgin Mary and us. She is young. She is perfect. She is virginal – it is Joseph’s task to stand aside and let us desire her, religiously. It takes a particularly old, a particularly grey, a particularly kindly and a particularly feeble man to do that. …Banished in vast numbers to the backgrounds of all those gloomy stables in all those ersatz Bethlehems, his complex iconographic task is to stand aside and let his wife be worshipped by the rest of us.”[70] However Carolyn Wilson challenges the long-held view that pre-Tridentine images were often intended to demean him.[71] According to Charlene Villaseñor Black, “Seventeenth-century Spanish and Mexican artists reconceptualized Joseph as an important figure, … representing him as the youthful, physically robust, diligent head of the Holy Family.” [72] Bartolomé Esteban Murillo‘s The Two Trinities, Saint Joseph is given the same prominence as the Virgin.

Full cycles of his life are rare in the Middle Ages, although the scenes from the Life of the Virgin or Life of Christ where he is present are far more often seen. TheMérode Altarpiece of about 1425, where he has a panel to himself, working as a carpenter, is an early example of what remained relatively rare depictions of him pursuing his métier.

Some statues of Joseph depict his staff as topped with flowers, recalling the non-canonical Protoevangelion‘s account of how Mary’s spouse was chosen by collecting the walking sticks of widowers in Palestine, and Joseph’s alone bursting into flower, thus identifying him as divinely chosen. The Golden Legend, which derives its account from the much older Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, tells a similar story, although it notes that all marriageable men of the Davidic line and not only widowers were ordered by the High Priest to present their rods at the Temple. Several Eastern Orthodox Nativity icons show Joseph tempted by the Devil (depicted as an old man with furled wings) to break off his betrothal, and how he resists that temptation. There are some paintings with him wearing a Jewish hat.

Chronology of Saint Joseph’s life in art[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Souvay, Charles. “St. Joseph.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 11 Oct. 2013
  2. Jump up^ St. Joseph’s (Hill) Lutheran Church, Boyertown, Pennsylvania
  3. Jump up^ St. Joseph Lutheran Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania
  4. Jump up^ St. Joseph United Methodist Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  5. Jump up^ St. Joseph United Methodist Church, Pikeville, North Carolina
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c Vermes, Geza (1981). Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels. Philadelphia: First Fortress. p. 20. ISBN 978-1451408805.
  7. Jump up^ Sanders, E. P. (1995). The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Penguin. p. 333.ISBN 978-0-14-014499-4.
  8. Jump up^ Aslan, Reza (2014). Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 978-9351360773.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b c Spong, John Shelby. Jesus for the non-religious. HarperCollins. 2007.ISBN 0-06-076207-1
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c Ironside, Harry A. (2007). Luke. Kregel Academic. p. 73. ISBN 978-0825496653.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b c Ryrie, Charles C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Moody Publishers. ISBN 978-1575674988.
  12. Jump up^ P. de Letter, “The Theology of Saint Joseph”, The Clergy Monthly, March 1955,Online at JSTOR
  13. Jump up^ For the use of the term, see: A Thomistic Josephology by James J Davis 1967, University of Montreal, ASIN B0007K3PL4
  14. Jump up^ An argument based on Herod’s instructions to kill all male infants up to this age, in Matthew 2.16
  15. Jump up^ Perrotta, Louise B. (2000). Saint Joseph: His Life and His Role in the Church Today. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. pp. 21, 110–112. ISBN 978-0-87973-573-9.
  16. Jump up^ Vermes, Geza “The Authentic Gospel of Jesus” (London, Penguin Books, 2004) Chapter 1: Narratives and commands, p. 1-37, ISBN 978-0141912608.
  17. Jump up^ Dickson, 47
  18. Jump up^ Deiss, Lucien (1996). Joseph, Mary, Jesus. Liturgical Press. ISBN 978-0814622551.
  19. Jump up^ Fiensy, 68-69
  20. Jump up^ Fiensy, 75-77
  21. Jump up^ Landman, Leo (1979). The Jewish Quarterly Review New Series, Vol. 70, No. 2 (JSTOR). University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 125–128.
  22. Jump up^ Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4
  23. Jump up^ Crossan, John Dominic. The essential Jesus. Edison: Castle Books. 1998. “Contexts,” p 1-24.
  24. Jump up^ Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition)
  25. Jump up^ Sanders terms it a “minor village.” Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. p. 104
  26. Jump up^ Laughlin, 192-194. See also Reed’s Chapter 3, pp. 131-134.
  27. Jump up^ Reed, 114-117, quotation p. 115
  28. Jump up^ Reed, Chapter 4 in general, pp. 125-131 on the Jewish nature of Sepphoris, and pp. 131-134
  29. Jump up^ pp. 74–77
  30. Jump up^ For example, Dickson, 47
  31. Jump up^ Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London, Penguin Books. 2004. Epilogue. p. 398-417, ISBN 978-0141912608.
  32. Jump up^ Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. “Birth & Infancy Stories” p. 497-526.
  33. Jump up^ Holy Apostles Convent (1989). The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. Buena Vista: Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete. p. 64. ISBN 0-944359-03-5.
  34. Jump up^ See, e.g., David Brown. “Commentary on Matthew 13:56”. Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Whole Bible. Retrieved 2009-01-07. An exceedingly difficult question here arises—What were these ‘brethren’ and ‘sisters’ to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or,Thirdly, Were they cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed. For the second opinion there is no ground but a vague tradition, arising probably from the wish for some such explanation. The first opinion undoubtedly suits the text best in all the places where the parties are certainly referred to (Mt 12:46; and its parallels, Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; our present passage, and its parallels, Mr 6:3; Joh 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Ac 1:14). But, in addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, thinking it in the last degree improbable that our Lord, when hanging on the cross, would have committed His mother to John if He had had full brothers of His own then alive, prefer the third opinion; although, on the other hand, it is not to be doubted that our Lord might have good reasons for entrusting the guardianship of His doubly widowed mother to the beloved disciple in preference even to full brothers of His own. Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties!
  35. Jump up^
  36. Jump up^
  37. Jump up^ Barclay, William (1 November 1998). The Ten Commandments. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-664-25816-0.
  38. ^ Jump up to:a b Everett Ferguson, Michael P. McHugh, Frederick W. Norris, article “Joseph”in Encyclopedia of early Christianity, Volume 1, p. 629
  39. Jump up^ Luigi Gambero, “Mary and the fathers of the church: the Blessed Virgin Mary in patristic thought” pp.35-41
  40. Jump up^ “The History of Joseph the Carpenter”. Comparative Religion. Retrieved2007-05-06.
  41. ^ Jump up to:a b The liturgy and time by Irénée Henri Dalmais, Aimé Georges Martimort, Pierre Jounel 1985 ISBN 0-8146-1366-7 page 143
  42. Jump up^ Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia, Volume 3 by Phyllis G. Jestice 2004 ISBN 1-57607-355-6 page 446
  43. Jump up^ Bernard of Clairvaux and the shape of monastic thought by M. B. Pranger 1997ISBN 90-04-10055-5 page 244
  44. Jump up^ The childhood of Christ by Thomas Aquinas, Roland Potter, 2006 ISBN 0-521-02960-0 pages 110-120
  45. Jump up^ Aquinas on doctrine by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 ISBN 0-567-08411-6 page 248
  46. Jump up^ Medieval mothering by John Carmi Parsons, Bonnie Wheeler 1999 ISBN 0-8153-3665-9 page 107
  47. Jump up^ Vatican website: Quamquam pluries
  48. Jump up^ Sunday Catholic Magazine October 4, 2009
  49. Jump up^ Foundations of the Christian way of life by Jacob Prasad 2001 ISBN 88-7653-146-7 page 404
  50. Jump up^ Vatican website: Redemptoris Custos
  51. Jump up^ Cradle of redeeming love: the theology of the Christmas mystery by John Saward 2002 ISBN 0-89870-886-9 page 230
  52. Jump up^ Divine likeness: toward a Trinitarian anthropology of the family by Marc OuelletISBN 0-8028-2833-7 page 102
  53. Jump up^ Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker Retrieved 3 October 2014
  54. Jump up^ Roman Missal
  55. Jump up^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 89
  56. Jump up^ 19 March is observed as the Feast of Saint Joseph, Guardian of Jesus, theEvangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Some Protestant traditions also celebrate this festival.
  57. Jump up^ Foley, O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
  58. Jump up^ Mention Your Request Here: The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas by Michael Dubruiel, 2000 ISBN 0-87973-341-1 page 154
  59. Jump up^ Devotions to St. Joseph by Susanna Magdalene Flavius, 2008 ISBN 1-4357-0948-9 pages 5-15
  60. Jump up^ Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph Tan Books, ISBN 978-0-89555-446-8
  61. Jump up^ Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales ISBN 0-7661-0074-XKessinger Press 1942 page 297
  62. Jump up^ The interior castle by Saint Teresa of Avila, Paulist Press 1979, ISBN 0-8091-2254-5 page 2
  63. Jump up^ The Story of a Soul by Saint Therese De Lisieux Bibliolife 2008 0554261588 page 94
  64. Jump up^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 449
  65. Jump up^ Applebome, Peter (2009-09-16). “St. Joseph, Superagent in Real Estate”. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  66. Jump up^ Saint Joseph: His Life and His Role in the Church Today by Louise Bourassa Perrotta 2000 ISBN 0-87973-573-2 page 130
  67. Jump up^ cf. Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21; Matthew 13:55,Mark 6:3; cf. section above
  68. Jump up^ Shapiro:6-7
  69. Jump up^ Finding St. Joseph by Sandra Miesel gives a useful account of the changing views of Joseph in art and generally in Catholicism
  70. Jump up^ Waldemar Januszczak, “No ordinary Joe”, The Sunday Times, December 2003
  71. Jump up^ Wilson, Carolyn C., St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art, Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2001, ISBN 9780916101367
  72. Jump up^ Black, Charlene Villaseñor, Creating the Cult of St. Joseph, Princeton University Press, 2006, ISBN 9780691096315