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19 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading:  Matthew 1.18-end

On this day two years ago I was fortunate enough to be present at St Peter’s in Rome for the Inaugural Eucharist for Pope Francis. It was a glorious occasion, with nearly two hundred thousand people gathered in the spring sunshine to welcome St Peter’s latest successor as Bishop of Rome.

In his sermon Pope Francis spoke simply and powerfully about Joseph, the ‘custos’ guardian of our Lord, who sets an example to all leaders of the duty to care and offer protection. Indeed the Church itself should play the part of ‘custos’ in the world, caring especially for those living in poverty and those who are vulnerable, as well as for the physical world for which we have responsibility as stewards. What struck many of us there was that Pope Francis took every opportunity to ask those he met to pray for him.  In his sermon it was as if he was saying, the responsibility we have to care for one another and for the world is immense! We must pray, because without God none of this would be possible.

Leadership is a weighty responsibility for anyone, especially where expectations are very high, as in the case of a Pope! But what St Joseph does, in choosing to take on the guardianship of Mary’s unborn child, and in taking care of her, despite the risk of public disgrace, sets a very brave example. In a dream Joseph hears the message of the angel, then wakes up unafraid to face the future with the pregnant young Mary as his wife.

The fact that we hear very little of Joseph after this is some indication that he saw his role as providing a steady, reliable home within which Jesus could grow up. He becomes a background figure, playing an absolutely vital part, but not in a way that was ever really going to get him noticed.

Let’s give thanks today for all those who have been ‘custos’ to us, those who have invested love and friendship in us, who have taken care over us. But we should also ask God’s help as we seek to provide a safe haven for others. May we be steady in our support and care for others, young and old, so that they may grow, thrive, and flourish, to the Glory of God the Father.

To whom are you ‘custos’ today?

Today’s Gospel Reading:  Matthew 1.18-end

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.