Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 19 March 2021
|Annunciation to Saint Joseph|
When we mention the name of St Joseph, the very first thing that comes to our mind is a man in utter calm and silence. Joseph, the husband of Mary does not speak in the scriptures; he is a man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence. He is a listener moreover a doer. All the four dreams (Mt 2:20-21; 2:13; 2:18-21; 2:22) through which he comes to know the Will of God do not say anything about him except that he followed the voice. In fact, he followed the voice boldly.
1. Silence means attentive holy listening
When Virgin Mary hears the voice of God through the angel Gabriel her first reaction was "how can this be, since I am a virgin" (Lk 1:34) However, when Joseph hears the voice of God there was complete "yes." Probably that is why we can write a lot about Joseph. With Pope Francis's "Patris Corde" apostolic letter St Joseph is once again back in the Church to reflect and meditate during this difficult year of the pandemic. St Joseph is the model in every sense of the word. In the current times when the political leaders of our countries seem to be turning out to be just verbal monsters than the listening leaders, St Joseph is a person we need to look for intercession. The Gospel of Mathew, while giving us the genealogy of Jesus says "Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ" (Mt 1: 16). Interestingly we also read in the book of Genesis, the father of Joseph was Jacob who was called Israel (Gen 35:22-26). Further, we hear a very fascinating story of Joseph of the Old Testament. "When extreme drought came to all the land of Egypt and the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you” (Gen 41:55). Joseph of the New Testament is a reminder for us that when we listen to Him, God will do everything for us.
2. Stong means ready to face the challenge of the moment
Life of St Joseph, even though, may look for us serene and calm, certainly, it must have been tumultuous and full of confusion. Evangelist Mathew writes, "Mary the mother of Jesus, was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:18-19). Joseph must have gone through all the crazy dreams when he realized that he has to take control of the situation as a righteous man. Certainly, Joseph is a strong-willed man. He believed in the God of his ancestors. God was his rock of salvation. God's ways are not our ways. Whenever the divine favour chooses someone to receive a special perhaps a difficult grace or to accept a challenging vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfil the task at hand (St Bernardine of Siena). This must have been the vocation of Joseph to carry out his vocation with complete fidelity. Joseph belonged to the lineage of Abraham, the father of our faith, David the King. Just like Abraham, David, Joseph was a strong man to face the challenges of the crises of the moment.
3. Faith means believing the unbelievable
When we think of Joseph, it is the faith, courage and trust that we recall. His actions speak more than the words, in fact, there are no words at all! All these are rooted deeply in faith. His utter silence before the unfolding mystery of God speaks about Joseph's faith in God, faith in God's promises, faith in his role as Jesus' father, faith in his wife Mary, faith in his son Jesus. His faith is truly incalculable. Joseph encounters God in his dreams, strangely in wild dreams. Certainly, they must have faded away quickly and far away when difficulties arose. Joseph must have relied on his faith so that faith feeds his courage to move forward. Pope Francis writing about Joseph in his recent apostolic letter Patris Corde - With a Father's Heart - says, "Joseph was the man chosen by God to guide the beginnings of the history of redemption. He was the true “miracle” by which God saves the child and his mother. God acted by trusting in Joseph’s creative courage" (5). Interestingly every dream that wakes up Joseph turns out to be a new vision to move forward with determination in believing the impossible. Undoubtedly, St Joseph has a lot to teach us.
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
18th March 2021