6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
– John 6:52-59
There are many absolute words in Scripture. There are also many jarring words. Jesus’ words in verse 6:53 are at the top of both those lists.
As Jesus’ conversation with the crowds and the disciples progresses, He goes out of His way to offend them. They were having enough difficulty hearing Him say He is the “bread of life” and “living bread” from heaven. Jesus ups the ante by telling them they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. The Mosaic law forbade the eating of any blood (Leviticus 17:10-14), let alone human blood. Jesus says they must drink His blood and eat His flesh. No wonder by the end of this conversation many of Jesus’ disciples leave Him. His words were too jarring for them.
Pause and consider how absolute His word is: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” The only way for anyone to have any life at all is to eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood. There are a lot of people who have no life within them. Their hearts may be beating and their lungs breathing, but if they do not come to the Lord’s Supper to eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood, they are without life.
No doubt many hear Jesus’ words as too absolute and harsh. But He Himself says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Peter tells the crowds in Jerusalem they had killed “the Author of life” (Acts 3:15). Jesus is life and the Author of life. The simple, but profound truth, is the only way to have life is to do as He commands — “Take and eat … Take and drink.” We must be in Jesus and He in us. In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we rightly yearned to come together in person for the Sacrament. The Lord’s Supper is the one meal not to be skipped.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, stir up in me the deep desire to tell others of Jesus’ love for me so they too are drawn to Him to receive life in the Lord’s Supper. Amen.
Lenten Response: Think of one believer you know who is not able to worship in person with a congregation to receive Jesus’ body and blood. Contact that person in whatever way you safely can. Carefully listen to how she or he is doing. Offer to pray at the end of the conversation. Do this even if you are not able to worship in person.
Devotion written by the Rev. Mark Chavez
2 Samuel 7:4 (Listen)
4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan,
2 Samuel 7:8–16 (Listen)
8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come 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 forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart 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 forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
Romans 4:13–18 (Listen)
The Promise Realized Through Faith
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
Luke 2:41–52 (Listen)
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Psalm 89 (Listen)
I Will Sing of the Steadfast Love of the Lord
A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
89:1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
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 offspring forever,
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!
6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
and awesome above all who are around him?
8 O LORD God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O LORD,
with your faithfulness all around you?
9 You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
12 The north and the south, you have created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
13 You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,
16 who exult in your name all the day
and in your righteousness are exalted.
17 For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
18 For our shield belongs to the LORD,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:
“I have granted help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
21 so that my hand shall be established with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him;
the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,
and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
38 But now you have cast off and rejected;
you are full of wrath against your anointed.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant;
you have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have breached all his walls;
you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by plunder him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword,
and you have not made him stand in battle.
44 You have made his splendor to cease
and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with shame. Selah
46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my time is!
For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
48 What man can live and never see death?
Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah
49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
which by your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,
and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
51 with which your enemies mock, O LORD,
with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed.
52 Blessed be the LORD forever!
Amen and Amen.
Psalm 148 (Listen)
Praise the Name of the Lord
148:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 105 (Listen)
Tell of All His Wondrous Works
105:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
7 He is the LORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
16 When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
21 he made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to bind his princes at his pleasure
and to teach his elders wisdom.
23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful
and made them stronger than their foes.
25 He turned their hearts to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent Moses, his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they did not rebel against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and fiery lightning bolts through their land.
33 He struck down their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
young locusts without number,
35 which devoured all the vegetation in their land
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the firstfruits of all their strength.
37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.
43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 130 (Listen)
My Soul Waits for the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
St. Joseph, Husband of Mary and Guardian of Our Lord (March 19)
About the Festival
No fully historical account of even a part of Joseph’s life is possible, for he left only a faint imprint on the tradition. He is not mentioned in Mark’s Gospel; John mentions only his name in the phrase “Jesus son of Joseph” (1:45; 6:42).
Genealogies of Matthew 1:2-16 and Luke 3:23-38, although different, both trace Joseph’s ancestry through David and are concerned with showing that Joseph was Jesus’ legal father. While Matthew and Luke agree that Joseph’s historical connections were with Bethlehem, Matthew implies that Joseph was a resident of Bethlehem who settled in Nazareth to avoid living under Archelaus in Judea (2:22-23), while Luke says that he lived in Nazareth before the birth of Jesus and went to Bethlehem according to the requirement of the enrollment (2:1ff., 39).
Joseph is an accessory figure in the infancy narratives who was present at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:16), the circumcision (2:21), the presentation (2:22), and the search for Jesus in the Temple (2:41-52). His trade was that of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55), although the Greek term could mean simply “artisan,” as was Jesus also (Mark 6:3). Joseph is portrayed as a “just” man (Matt. 1:19), that is, a devout adherent to the Law; one who was kind and wise, like the patriarchs gladly responding to visionary dreams; a faithful and affectionate father to Jesus.
He was apparently alive when Jesus’ ministry began (Matt. 13:55), but we do not hear of him again. Presumably he had died by the time of the crucifixion so that Jesus commended his mother to the care of the beloved disciple (John 19:26-27), a gesture that would have been unnecessary if Mary’s husband had been alive. Yet the usual portrayal of Joseph as an old man is not explicitly supported by the Gospels; it begins rather in the second century in a Gospel attributed to James the Less. A fifth-century History of Joseph the Carpenter says that Joseph was widowed at eighty-nine years of age and that Mary became his ward when he was ninety-one.
The first known commemoration of Joseph occurs in an eighth-century calendar from northern France or Belgium, which for March 20 lists Joseph and calls him “spouse of Mary.” The title remained, and on the present Roman calendar as well as the United Methodist calendar in For All the Saints, Joseph is identified as “husband of Mary.” In the early ninth-century calendars, such as the Reichenau Martyrology of ca. 850, Joseph is commemorated on March 19; the reason for the change in date is not known. The Franciscans, especially Bernardine of Siena (d. 1444), promoted the feast of St. Joseph. The celebration was introduced in Rome about 1479 and, especially since the fifteenth century, its popularity has greatly increased. Joseph’s cult spread rapidly after Teresa of Avila dedicated the motherhouse of her order to him. The late spread of the feast probably accounts for its omission on Lutheran and Anglican calendars at the time of the Reformation. In 1870 Pius IX declared Joseph to be the patron and guardian of the universal Church; the 1920 edition of the Missal introduced a special proper preface for the day, retained in the present Roman Sacramentary (1970); in 1962 John XXIII introduced Joseph’s name into the canon of the Mass. In 1955 the Roman Catholic Church added May 1 as the feast of St. Joseph the worker as a response to the Socialist May Day in honor of labor and a symbol of the rights of workers. The Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday within the octave of Christmas (or, if there is no Sunday within the octave, on December 30) also commemorates the parents of Jesus.
In the Eastern Churches, Joseph is grouped with the patriarchs of the Old Testament. He is the last of that line, which culminates in Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), and when Joseph flees to Egypt with his family, he recapitulates the pilgrimage of the patriarch Joseph as a preparation for the new exodus and the Christian Passover (Genesis 37; 50:22-26; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:13-23).
St. Joseph is regarded as a patron saint of Canada.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Saint Joseph
From a sermon by Bernardine of Siena
There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.
This general rule is especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasure, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” [Matt. 25:21]
What then is Joseph’s position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and, yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honorably introduced into the world. Holy Church in its entirety is indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her it was judged worthy to receive Christ. But after her we undoubtedly owe special gratitude and reverence to Saint Joseph. In him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfillment. What the divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms.
Sermon 2, from the English Translation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc.
O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
BCP; rev. in ELW
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4, 8-16; Psalm 89:1-29 or 89:1-4, 26-29; Romans 4:13-18; Luke 2:41-52 or Matthew 1:18-24a
Hymn of the Day: “Our Father, by whose name all fatherhood is known” (H82 587, LBW 357, LSB 863, ELW 640) or “Come now and praise the humble saint” (H82 260) or “By the Creator, Joseph was appointed” (H82 262)
Prayers: For fathers and foster parents; For quiet confidence; For humble service; For those who work with their hands: artisans and laborers; In thanksgiving for the patriarchs and prophets.
Preface: Epiphany (BCP)
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.