Daily Reading & Meditation
Tuesday (March 19): Joseph did as the angel commanded him
Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 (alternate reading: Matthew 23:1-12)
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife
Old Testament Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14-16
4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'”
Meditation: 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.”
2 For your steadfast love was established for ever, your faithfulness is firm as the heavens.
3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4 `I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'” [Selah]
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.
A Daily Quote for March 19: The character of Joseph, from a homily by Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153
“Joseph’s character and qualities can be deduced from the fact that God honored him with the title of father, and, although his doing so was a mere matter of convenience, this was what he was known as and believed to be. Joseph’s own name, which as you know means “increase”, supplies further indications. Call to mind the great patriarch of old who was sold into Egypt, and you will realize that it was not only his name that our saint received but also his chastity, innocence, and grace. His brothers’ envy had caused the earlier Joseph to be sold and taken to Egypt, thus symbolizing the selling of Christ: the later Joseph carried Christ into Egypt, fleeing before Herod’s envy… The first Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams: the second was given a revelation of the divine plan and a share in its accomplishment. Joseph the patriarch stored up grain, not for himself but for all the people: our Joseph was given custody of the living bread from heaven to keep safe both for himself and the whole world. There is no doubt that the Joseph to whom the Savior’s mother was engaged was a good and faithful man. He was, I say, the wise and faithful steward whom the Lord appointed to support his mother and care for himself in childhood, singling him out for his complete reliability to help him with his momentous plan.” (Hom. 2 super Missus est, 11.16: PL 183, 69-70)
Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager
Daily Reading & Meditation
Sunday (March 17): Jesus transfigured in glory
Gospel Reading: Luke 9:28-36
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son [my Chosen]; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 15:5-12,17-18
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and lo, a dread and great darkness fell upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates
Meditation: What can blind us or keep us from recognizing God’s glory in our lives? Sin and unbelief for sure! Faith enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to the naked eye. Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God and God’s call on his life. He saw from afar not only what God intended for him, but for his descendants as well – an everlasting covenant of friendship and peace with the living God (Genesis 15:18). Abraham is the father of faith because he put his hope in the promises of God. Faith makes us taste in advance the light of God’s glory when we shall see him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).
The Lord Jesus reveals his glory in fulfilling his Father’s will
Are you prepared to see God’s glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus’ face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3).
When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29). Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles – Peter, James, and John.
What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he obeyed. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8).
The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory – he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory: follow me – obey my words – take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessings of my Father’s kingdom – your name will be written in heaven.
Jesus succeeded in his mission because he went to Calvary so that Paradise would be restored to us once again. He embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory that awaits each one of us, if we will follow in his footsteps.
Origen (185-254 AD), an early church bible scholar and writer, shows us how the transfiguration can change our lives:
“When he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifest, he will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness.”
Stay awake spiritually – Don’t miss God’s glory and action
Luke’s Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God’s glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the “unexamined life” can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.
Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?
“Lord Jesus, keep me always alert to you, to your presence in my life, and to your life-giving word that nourishes me daily. Let me see your glory.”
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The transfiguration of Jesus, by Jerome (347-420 AD)
“Do you wish to see the transfiguration of Jesus? Behold with me the Jesus of the Gospels. Let him be simply apprehended. There he is beheld both ‘according to the flesh’ and at the same time in his true divinity. He is beheld in the form of God according to our capacity for knowledge. This is how he was beheld by those who went up upon the lofty mountain to be apart with him. Meanwhile those who do not go up the mountain can still behold his works and hear his words, which are uplifting. It is before those who go up that Jesus is transfigured, and not to those below. When he is transfigured, his face shines as the sun, that he may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). They are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the children of day. They walk honestly as in the day. Being manifested, he will shine to them not simply as the sun but as he is demonstrated to be, the sun of righteousness.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 12.37.10)