Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Silent Partner

Poor Joseph!

Ever since high school I have had a devotion to St. Joseph (I attended Mount St. Joseph here in Baltimore).  I've had a statue of St. Joe in my room, and he has been borrowed and buried in his capacity as "sanctified-seller-of-Catholic-houses" - many times.  As my own vocation grew, St. Joseph has been there all along.

Today, we find him dazed and confused by the bomb that Mary must have just dropped on him:

"Honey, I know we are to be man and wife, and I know that I am promised to God as a perpetual virgin and all, but guess what..."

Poor, poor, confused Joseph!

St. Joseph has no lines in the Gospels.  Zero.  He is silent, and perhaps he likes it that way.  But Matthew tells us plenty about him today.  He is a "righteous man."  While Joseph is also good, he is "righteous," and this has implications regarding the Law.  "Righteous," in Scripture, carries with it a connotation of being in proper relationship with God, others and the Law.  While Joseph was certainly no religious scholar - he was probably not even very literate - he knew what the Law implied for a woman found pregnant and not by her hubby.

However, Matthew goes further.  Joseph is "not willing to expose her to shame."  You see, he loves Mary - even through the confusion, through the hurt.  He loves her.  And because he is a good man, because of that love, Joseph allows compassion to overshadow revenge - because, let's face it, those who would be stoning Mary would care very little for justice and righteousness.

This is what I have loved about St. Joseph.  He is a strong man - inside and out.  As the father of Jesus here on earth, Christ would have spent most of his boyhood learning from him - at work, in prayer.  It would have been from Joseph that Jesus would have learned how to relate to God as "Father."  It would have been from Joseph, humanly speaking, that Jesus would have learned the supreme value of compassion, mercy and forgiveness over the strictures of the Law.

As a priest and a pastor, I see Joseph as a special patron.  Here is a man, who is given God's greatest Gift - Jesus.  This is a Child whom he did nothing to generate, and yet, Joseph takes His mother and Him into his home and loves them as his own.  This is how I see the gifts of the People of God, given to me as a pastor, and my role as "father."

We need St. Joseph - especially this last weekend of Advent.  Here, when the hectic pace gets worst, we need to imitate Joseph by simply shutting up and being still - even taking a nap!  It was in his dream, after all, that the message of comfort came to him.  Take some time in the next day or two to reflect on the Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-14), and silently, like Joseph, allow God to open your heart to trust Him and to welcome Jesus when he arrives.

1 comment:

StephieDanger said...

This is a really beautiful comentary of St. Joseph! Thank you for sharing it with us!