First Reading: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16


Promises From the Past


Have you seen promises from the past kept long after they were made? What happened?


4 It happened the same night, that the word of Yahweh came to Nathan, saying,


5 “Go and tell my servant David, 12 ‘When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall proceed out of your bowels, 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 his father, and he shall be my son. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before you: your throne shall be established forever.’”


World English Version


In an answer to David’s prayer, the prophet Nathan gave the king a mixed message. David wanted to build YHWH a proper Temple in the new capital, Jerusalem. The Lord denied that request, but gave David something greater, a covenant promise. Like his father in faith, Abraham, the king would receive an unwavering pledge. The dynasty of David would last forever. Moreover, relations between YHWH and the kings in the royal line would be closer than that between the Lord and David. The descendant would build a house (this is an ambiguous phrase in Hebrew and English; it can refer to a building or a family).


In the time of Jesus, many read this passage and looked back to the reign of Solomon, the direct son of David, who build the first Temple during his reign. But, some looked ahead to a righteous son of David, the Messiah. God’s Chosen One would gather all the faithful into a single house, God’s family. Followers of Jesus saw him as that Messiah and his Church as the house prophesied to David.


St. Joseph was the legal conduit for Nathan’s words. While Mary was the Mother of the Messiah through the power of the Spirit, Joseph claimed the baby Jesus as his own heir when he had the child circumcised. For Matthew, Jesus was a righteous Jew because Joseph believed the word of God, married the boy’s mother, and gave Jesus his linage as a “son of David.” Thus, through Joseph’s obedience to the Law, Jesus was a proper Jew (“son of Abraham”) and the promised One (“son of David”).


Promises from the past can come true before our eyes. As Christians, we believe St. Joseph saw the promise God made to David come to pass. We also believe that we experience that fulfillment now, for we experience the Risen Jesus. He is the one who sits on the throne of David forever.


Imagine that you knew St. Joseph. What would he say to you about the promises of God? How would he witness to you about their fulfillment?