for Alfie Evans, 16 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Romans i: 1-6
servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel
of God, Which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy
scriptures, Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David,
according to the flesh, Who was predestinated the Son of God in power,
according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord
Jesus Christ from the dead; By whom we have received grace and apostleship
for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for his name; Among whom are
you also the called of Jesus Christ.
Matthew i: 18-25
When as his
mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found
with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just
man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away
privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the
Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to
take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the
Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name
JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done that
it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet [Isaias],
saying: “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God
with us.” And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord
had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till
she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
to honor the God- bearing Woman
because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.”
Monday night I got a call from a lady I have known for
about ten years and her newly married husband. They had attended Mass (Novus Ordo,
I think) that morning, and were disturbed by a reading that seemed to deny
the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin. It was the same passage we
read from Saint Matthew’s Gospel this morning, but with a few more verses,
and in a more “modern” translation. (There are, by the way, worse
translations out there.)
Modern Protestants and modernist
Catholics use the phrases “before they
came together” and “did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn
son” in an effort to assert that the relationship between Mary and Joseph
was intimately physical, and even to suggest that they had other children
together after the birth of Jesus. I believe I should put these passages in
Roughly eleven months ago, January 23rd on the
liturgical calendar, traditional Catholics celebrated a feast honoring the
“espousal” or “betrothal” of Mary and Joseph. For the Jewish people, an
espousal was far more than an “engagement” as we know it. The couple
exchanged wedding vows, signed a wedding contract, and took whatever
financial steps that were customary—the only thing missing from a full-blown
wedding was that the bride continued to live with her family until the
couple were able to establish living arrangements for their new family.
Saint Joseph is thought to have been considerably older
than Mary; likely owning his own home and attached carpentry practice—but it
would take some time and effort to transform a single man’s home into one
suitable for a wife and the hoped for children. (you have to get the lumber
out of the living room, and the pegs and the nails out of the kitchen
cabinets!) Linens and dishes and towels may well have been received as
wedding presents, but there would still be a need to acquire domestic
animals, cooking hardware, and other household necessities. A man like
Joseph might have needed time to satisfy out of town building contracts
before joining his bride. The betrothal period (usually a year or less)
gave the couple the time to organize all of this. Their marriage would
become a normal marriage when they were able to consolidate their new
family’s dwellings. Their “coming together” would have been a perfectly
normal and natural thing.
Tradition has it that Saint Joseph was selected by the
priests of the Temple to become Mary’s husband. To the usual list of
practical reasons why any mother should be married—including the Mother of
God—Saint Jerome adds:
the sake of the genealogy of Mary, which we have obtained by that of
Joseph. Secondly, because she was thus saved from being stoned by the Jews
as an adulteress. Thirdly, that [Jesus] and His mother might have a
guardian on their journey into Egypt. To these, Ignatius, the martyr of
Antioch, has added a fourth reason namely, that the birth might take place
unknown to the devil, who would naturally suppose that Mary had conceived by
Today’s Gospel confirms the betrothal of Joseph and
Mary, yet indicates the lack of knowledge about each other that a new couple
would have about each other until they “came together.” Mary, in her sixth
or seventh month, has begun to “show.” Joseph knew that her child could not
be his, and began to think about the best way to follow the Mosaic Law
without subjecting her to harm—the law prescribed death for an adulteress!
In His divine providence, God sent an angel to explain the exalted gift of
Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph. Joseph did the good and holy and chaste thing,
and took her into his home, as was ordained by Almighty God’s priests. Mary
and Joseph’s “coming together” was entirely good and holy and chaste. Their
“coming together” had been decreed by God to protect His Son and to confuse
Now the other thing—Matthew’s verse 25—says “he
[Joseph] knew her not till she
brought forth her firstborn son.” A man “knowing” a woman can
be a euphemism for him taking her intimately and physically. But it is only
a euphemism. For the most part, we “know” someone when we understand their
habits, their beliefs, and their thinking.
Saint Matthew’s Gospel comes down to us in Greek. The
exact verb he used to indicate “knowing” in this passage is used elsewhere
in the Gospels to describe cognition rather than physical contact.
And cognition is what today's Gospel is all about. Joseph was unaware of
Mary's condition until it was revealed to him. Their marriage had been
arranged, so there must have been many other things that they didn't know
about each other. Joseph would be lucky indeed if he came to know all there
was to know about Mary by the time Jesus was born!
The modernists like to tempt us into thinking that the
word “till” implies a change thereafter—but it does
not. “It rained until midnight on Monday” tells us nothing about the
precipitation on Tuesday or any of the days after—it certainly does not
declare a drought for the rest of the week or the month!
of biblical passages become illogical if “till” denotes
a subsequent change of status (Hat-tip to Karl Keating: Keating, Karl
(1988), Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by
"Bible Christians", Ignatius Press, ISBN 978-0-89870-177-7):
Which [raven] went forth and did not return, till the waters were dried
up upon the earth.
Odd raven—one would have expected him to
return to the ark if there were no dry land on which to perch, but not if
Deuteronomy 34:6 And He buried him [Moses] in the valley of the land
of Moab over against Phogor: and no man hath known of his sepulchre
until this present day.
Well, today is the “present day” and we still
do not know where Moses is buried!
2 Kings 6:23
Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her
Unfortunately, the scripture tells us nothing
about the children of Saul’s daughter had after she died!
Finally, we know that Mary and Joseph were scrupulous
in observing the Mosaic Law—indeed this Gospel shows how Joseph would even
put Mary away if the Law demanded it. They obeyed the Law even in matters
from which they could reasonably claim exemption—for example the ritual
purification from the guilt of childbirth on the 40th day—they obeyed that
Law even though there was no guilt in the birth of Jesus Christ!
Depending upon how you interpret Deuteronomy 24,
physical congress between the two would have made Mary unclean with respect
Considering that she was the Mother of God that would be clearly
intolerable. Or, it might be possible to read the Law in such a way that it
would have made Mary unclean with respect to Joseph—which still would be an
awful situation. He was her divinely appointed protector! Again, people
who placed such importance on observing the Law would not have done anything
so far afoul of it—nor would they bring such penalties upon themselves.
On the bulletin board you can read a brief passage by
Msgr. Ronald A. Knox, explaining why non-Catholics belittle the Blessed
Virgin—or you can read it on the church’s website.
In brief, people who think little of Mary think little of God and their Son.
to honor the God-bearing Woman
because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.”