Throughout the Lenten season, we will post reflections for holy days and Sundays from both this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, Witnesses on the way, which includes all-new reflections written by National Council Chair Charlene Howard and her husband Michael Howard (and daily reflections from newly-named Ambassadors of Peace). Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2023 webpage.

You can still purchase and download this year’s e-booklet, Witnesses on the way: Reflections for Lent 2023. Read more at this link or click here to order and download now.

REFLECTION FOR Monday, March 20, 2023

by Michael Howard

~ Solemnity of St. Joseph ~
2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 | Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 | Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit …”

Matthew 1:20

Does the above scripture’s caption send chills through you? After reading the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, are you stumped by how the author breaks the rhythm of the lineage with this one word, husband? Read the 42 generations slowly. Watch Matthew’s subtle move between fathers and brothers. Then notice how Matthew incorporated the term husband to introduce Joseph. Yes, this passage is worth highlighting in your Bible because this shift is significant, as the angel spoke to Joseph, who the Bible called a righteous man.

Maybe you don’t see it, but Matthew’s audience got it. Matthew highlights the importance of the bloodline in the Jewish tradition by painstakingly listing these generations proving that Jesus came from a Jewish tradition. What this means is that Joseph, because of his Jewish roots, when finding out that Mary was with child, had every right “to expose [Mary] to shame” (Matthew 1:19). Here, Joseph was at a crossroads, wrestling within, thinking perhaps of his character being considered a righteous man. What would his neighbors say about him and Mary, especially since he was not the baby’s daddy?

What is important to grasp here are the powerful words of the angel, Joseph’s internal spiritual director. The angel told Joseph to lay down his cultural traditions for a moment. Joseph knows the significance of the bloodline and his Jewish tradition, but following the Holy Spirit is more important. The angel that spoke to Joseph could be the same angel that spoke to Timothy through St. Paul, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our God” (2 Timothy 1:7-8). We too must not be afraid of our testimony to God. We must follow our guardian angels’ spiritual direction like Joseph and say Yes.


  • How will you respond to your angel’s spiritual direction today, saying Yes, or Maybe next year?

>> Join the Pax Christi USA community tonight, March 20, for the fourth in our weekly series of Lenten prayer services over ZoomClick here for more information and to register

>> Click here to see more resources for prayer, study and action this Lenten season.

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