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Advent Reflection: Learning From the Silence and Way of St. Joseph
As he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins". When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
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CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On Both Wednesday and coming Sunday I will proclaim the first chapter of Matthews Gospel at Holy Mass:
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; of whom Jesus was born, he who is called Christ. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins". When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
This was Joseph's Annunciation: An Angel appeared to Him with a message from the Lord. The word Angel means messenger. Joseph had a specific vocation, a calling. It was that vocation which informed absolutely everything in his life. We each have a specific vocation. When we discover it, or rather, when we learn to submit to it in Love and for Love, our lives are forever changed.
This Was Joseph's Fiat: He gave his YES. He exercised His freedom by saying Yes to God's invitation. His response was his song, his Magnificat. So too, we are all called to learn to say Yes, in lives which are increasingly given over to God and His Will. When we do, we find everything else for which we long.We also find the source of true joy, Jesus Christ.
From antiquity, Christians have cherished Joseph as a model of genuine manly virtue. Since the fourteenth century there has been a specific day set aside in the Roman calendar to honor him. He is viewed as the "Patron" of the universal Church, of all husbands and of social justice. He has also been designated as the patron of all workers, this Carpenter who taught the Word Incarnate, the Child Jesus, how to work with wood.
This man was the foster father of the Incarnate Word of God - and he loved Jesus with an exemplary love. This same Jesus who learned to work with wood from the hands of Joseph would, during his 33rd year save the world, through his working with wood, the wood of the Cross.
In an age that has lost its way, given over to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph should again be lifted up as a model, particularly to men who desire to follow Jesus Christ.
In popular language we sometimes use an expression to refer to men who are comfortable "in their skin" and content with being men. We say of such a man "He is a man's man". Well, Joseph is a true "man's man." He was a man of few words, he spoke through his actions, and he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded.
Joseph was a man for others. Though the Scriptures say little about Joseph, even that absence speaks volumes. Why? Because to Joseph, he was not the one who was important, others were. He loved Mary above himself and his behavior was "just" as a result of his love.
He was prepared to "do the right thing" when she was found to be with child. He could have chosen otherwise. How refreshing this upright manly behavior is in an age where men often cower in the face of difficulty.
Joseph was a man of faith and courage. Along with loving his betrothed, he loved His God courageously. He had a close, intimate personal relationship with the God of His Fathers. In fact, this "just" man was, in a sense, the last Patriarch, completing the lineage.
Through his response of faith, He would receive the great gift promised for all men and women and hold in His arms the One that His fathers had only longed to see.
God's messenger, an angel, visited Joseph in a dream. He was ready to receive. He was disposed not only to the encounter but to the invitation it presented to pour himself out in love and for Love. He heard the message and, without hesitation, did what the Lord commanded!
Joseph's "Fiat", his Yes, his exercise of human freedom to advance God's eternal plan is a refreshing example of manly faith and courage in an age of cowardice and rebellion.
Joseph was a humble man. There was not an ounce of false bravado or "machismo" in this servant of God. Named after the great Patriarch who was sold into slavery in Egypt; he bore the name with similar humility.
As the Old Testament Joseph (Genesis 37) embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or "victim-hood" and actually came to rule Egypt, actually forgiving the very brothers who had sold him into slavery; so too this son of the Covenant embraced the One who would establish the New Covenant on the altar of Calvary, he put Jesus Christ and His Mother first. In so doing, Joseph is a patron and a model to all men who choose to walk the way of the cross.
Joseph emptied himself in order to be filled with the love and life of God. He gave himself fully to God through accepting his unique and specific vocation as a guardian of the Redeemer.
Blessed John Paul II wrote a beautiful apostolic exhortation reflecting on Joseph entitled Guardian of the Redeemer. He released it on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in 1989. He made a profound connection between Mary's response to the angel and Joseph's response:
There is a strict parallel between the "annunciation" in Matthew's text and the one in Luke. The divine messenger introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary's motherhood. While remaining a virgin, she who by law is his "spouse" has become a mother through the power of the Holy Spirit. And when the Son in Mary's womb comes into the world, he must receive the name Jesus. This was a name known among the Israelites and sometimes given to their sons. In this case, however, it is the Son who, in accordance with the divine promise, will bring to perfect fulfillment the meaning of the name Jesus-Yehos ua' - which means "God saves."
Joseph is visited by the messenger as "Mary's spouse," as the one who in due time must give this name to the Son to be born of the Virgin of Nazareth who is married to him. It is to Joseph, then, that the messenger turns, entrusting to him the responsibilities of an earthly father with regard to Mary's Son.
"When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (cf. Mt 1:24). He took her in all the mystery of her motherhood. He took her together with the Son who had come into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way he showed a readiness of will like Mary's with regard to what God asked of him through the angel.
Joseph NAMED Jesus. What an honor. What a relationship. In the scriptures, name connoted and conferred an extraordinary relationship. In fact, he was referred to as the Carpenters son.
Blessed John Paul spoke of Josephs' Way in that same exhortation:
In the course of that pilgrimage of faith which was his life, Joseph, like Mary, remained faithful to God's call until the end. While Mary's life was the bringing to fullness of that fiat first spoken at the Annunciation, at the moment of Joseph's own "annunciation" he said nothing; instead he simply "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him" (Mt 1:24).
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And this first "doing" became the beginning of "Joseph's way." The Gospels do not record any word ever spoken by Joseph along that way. But the silence of Joseph has its own special eloquence, for thanks to that silence we can understand the truth of the Gospel's judgment that he was "a just man" (Mt 1:19).
The child Jesus, God in the flesh, was given to Joseph to name, to love and to raise - as a father raises a son. A Carpenter, Joseph taught this child how to work with wood. That was, after all, what he had to give. He gave everything he had to the One whom he called Lord, son and savior.
During what are often called the "hidden years" because we have little in the Gospel text about them, Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph was with Jesus. Joseph uniquely participated in the mystery of Gods plan of redemption through simply being the man he was called to be. How challenging his witness is in an age of narcissism and inordinate self-love.
For over two millennia, the redemptive mission of Jesus has continued through His Body on earth, His Church. We are members of that Church. He has entrusted His work to all men and women who accept the invitation to empty themselves in order to be filled with the life and love of God. We are invited to continue His redemptive mission for the world. No matter what our state in life or specific vocation, we are invited to join our Yes, to Mary, Joseph and the countless others who have walked this way before us.
Through the Fountain of living water called Baptism, he invites each one of us into His new family, the Body of His Son, the Church. He still gives His message and His mission to men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and then choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage.
He still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation and participation in God's plan. He is looking for a "few good men" like Joseph who will work in the workshop of the world that he created in order to recreate it anew in His Son.
In this age of the "anti-hero", men should rediscover this true hero, this "man's man" named Joseph. Then, we need to follow his example by courageously, humbly and faithfully loving Jesus Christ. We need to learn to give our "Yes" to the God whose love always invites participation.
Joseph is our teacher and shows us the way, a true 'Man's Man', calling all men to follow Jesus.
We Need Courageous men in this age to learn Joseph's Way.
The Silence of Joseph: Deacon Keith Fournier
".His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to his divine wishes. .Let us allow ourselves to be "infected" by the silence of St Joseph! We have much need of it in a world which is often too noisy, which does not encourage reflection and listening to the voice of God." (Pope Benedict XVI, December 18, 2005)
The Silence of Joseph echoes in a world of noise turning a cacophony of self love into a melody of self surrender.
The silence of Joseph is a seed which bears the fruit of holiness and courage.
The silence of Joseph drowns the din of sorrow and silences the wailing of the weak
The silence of Joseph draws the world to a cave in Bethlehem where God is born as man and man is born again
The silence of Joseph draws us to our knees in worship of the Word made flesh in whose presence all words of men lose their meaning
The silence of Joseph directs a symphony of silence which stills the universe in adoration of the One in Whom the New creation has come.
Let us join our silence to the Silence of Joseph
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