Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Joseph is a model of love – true love – not the false so-called “love” of mere feelings and emotions, of merely making himself happy and satisfying his own wants and desires, but the true and perfect love of consciously deciding to empty himself and make a gift of self in seeking the good of others.

In complete fidelity, Joseph placed himself entirely at the service of Mary and Jesus. As the model husband and father, in addition to servant, Joseph was defender, protector, and provider. He took Mary and Jesus into his home and into his heart. He found shelter when there was no room at the inn; he took his family to Egypt when Herod was determined to destroy the Messiah in Bethlehem; he kept them safely in Egypt until Herod’s demise, when they could safely return home to Nazareth; and he worked as a craftsman, a carpenter, to provide a home for his family. When Mary and Jesus encountered the hardships of everyday life, it was Joseph who stood at their side, providing them help and encouragement.

Joseph was also counsellor and teacher to the young Jesus, providing Him the usual education, instructing Him in a trade, and proclaiming the faith to Him. Joseph arranged for the circumcision of baby Jesus, the entrance into the covenant with God, and he presented Him to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem. Joseph took Jesus to the synagogue to hear the word of God and, each Passover, Joseph took his family on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where, at age 12, Jesus was found discussing the faith with teachers in the Temple.

Aside from Mary, Joseph was closer to and knew Jesus more than any other person in history. Until his death, Joseph observed, participated in, and knew all the intimate details of Jesus’ life. It was Joseph who, together with Mary, most influenced and prepared Jesus for His adult and public life. Whereas John the Baptist prepared the world for Jesus, preparing the way for the Lord on a public level, it was Joseph who prepared the way for the Lord on a private level.

Indeed, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus are the family of God. In them is the Church in miniature, the model for all of us in faith, love, hope, and truth.

Now, Joseph could have said “No.” Just as Mary the Immaculate retained free will, so too did Joseph have the freedom to refuse to be husband and father. He had the freedom to reject the message of the angel and allow Mary (and the unborn Jesus, because the Incarnation had already occurred) to be stoned to death, thereby defeating God’s plan for the salvation of the world. Just as God placed Himself at the mercy of Mary, making Himself small and defenseless in her womb, so too did God entrust Himself to Joseph, totally and completely vulnerable and defenseless. But God also knew that Joseph was just and righteous and, just as He chose Mary, the Father of Jesus in heaven specifically chose Joseph to be the father of Jesus on earth.

God knew, as we know now, that Joseph was and is a model of love and fidelity, a good and righteous man to whom He could entrust His Son. And so, we understand that, because he was protector and defender of Jesus, so too is Joseph protector and defender of the Church. Thus, as with Mary, we can turn to St. Joseph in heaven to protect us always.

Father, you entrusted our Savior to the care of St. Joseph. By the help of his prayers may your Church continue to serve its Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

It Wasn't His Child (ad may play first)
Trisha Yearwood



Jan said...

... ,thereby defeating God’s plan for the salvation of the world

Something about this sounds wrong - I'm just not sure what. It would seem to be a moot point since the God of eternity already knew that Mary and Joseph would both consent to their destined roles in salvation history.

What is the implication for the world and mankind had Joseph allowed Mary and baby Jesus to be killed?

Bender said...

Ah, the mystery of the existence of free will notwithstanding God already knowing what we will or will not do.

Sure, God knew what Joseph would choose to do before Joseph did. But that does not mean that Joseph did not have free choice of the will to do something else.

I suppose if God knew that Joseph would have had Mary and in-utero Jesus stoned, He would have chosen another couple. Or maybe not.

Part of work of salvation is that, although it is purely a free gift, we are still expected to participate and help out. God isn't going to do all the work Himself -- the existence of the Church demonstrates that -- rather, He wants this to be a joint project, He wants mankind to undo the wrong choice we made "in the beginning." He gave us a second chance to do the right thing.

And to be able to freely make the right choice this time, so as to redeem ourselves to the extent that we can, it was necessary that Joseph be free to say "no," to make the wrong choice. In which case, nobody could rightly complain -- our sinful state is our own fault, and God would merely be leaving us to reap what we sowed in the Garden.

Bender said...

Then again, if Jesus had died in the womb from stoning (or if Herod had succeeded in killing Him in Bethlehem), God could have used that as a redemptive sacrifice, rather than dying as an adult on the Cross. We might then still have salvation, but without knowing that we have been or can be saved, and without the revelation of how we might obtain that salvation.