Priest reflects on Joseph’s fiat


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
When Mary said “yes” to carrying the son of God in her womb, time was of the essence for her betrothed, Joseph, to get involved and support her.

Fr. Akindele

“God saw fit to involve St. Joseph immediately in the fatherhood of the child Jesus,” said Father Ni­ch­olas Akin­dele. He is parochial vicar of Holy Family Parish and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo. “God knew the precarious nature of the infant in the womb based on the Jewish law against premarital sex.” According to the law, Mary could have been stoned to death.

The Gospel of Matthew states that Joseph initially planned to protect Mary by quietly divorcing her. It’s likely that Joseph initially felt disappointed upon hearing that his betrothed was pregnant, but gave her the benefit of the doubt, Father Akindele said. “His plans were being interrupted. I am not sure he doubted Mary or suspected she was unfaithful at all. This is because Mary was raised completely in the temple from the age of 3 until Joseph betrothed her. Hence, he did not decide to openly divorce her but do it secretly.”

Yet, God didn’t just want Joseph to be merciful toward Mary; he wanted Joseph to take an active role in the lives of Mary and her unborn child. According to the Gospel of Matthew, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph took Mary into his home and they began their married life.


Like Mary, Joseph also chose to say “yes” to God, regardless of the hardship and personal sacrifice to himself, Pope Francis wrote in his 2020 apostolic letter, Patris Corde. A series of dreams led Joseph to swiftly take Mary as his wife, thus protecting her and Jesus. “God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child,” Pope Francis wrote.

“God did not allow for a waste of time to ensure that Mary and the baby Jesus were in safe condition and well protected by a father figure, who would not only name the child but also give the mother and baby all the needed fatherly protection, love and care throughout various stages of pregnancy, and infancy,” Father Akindele said.

He believes Joseph’s decision to say “yes” to God under difficult circumstances is something we can all learn from. “He listened to God in the dream and acted upon God’s message. In doubt, therefore, as to another’s culpability one must seek to listen to God’s verdict and not our own possibly selfish thoughts. This also speaks to other times or situations we are confused about a course of action, be it in our families, jobs, direction in life or any other at all. Listening to the will of God is paramount.”

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