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Reflection on the Silence of St. Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer

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By Deacon Keith Fournier
12/25/2018 (3 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

He was a man of few words, he spoke through his actions, and he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded. Joseph's response was action.

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 embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or victim-hood and actually came to rule Egypt, 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.

St. Joseph and the child Jesus

St. Joseph and the child Jesus

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - A Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was issued mandating the insertion of the name of St. Joseph in the Prayer offered by every Catholic priest in the world when they offer Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I reflected on its meaning here.

Pope Francis follows in the footsteps of his predecessors of blessed memory in commending of St. Joseph as a model to the faithful in this hour. Saint John Paul wrote an exquisite Apostolic Exhortation on Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer, which can be read in its entirety here.

Let us consider together what the biblical texts tell us about St, Joseph. Though there are not many words, they have profound meaning for all of us as we seek to live a life of holiness, no matter what our state in life or vocation. They are of particular importance for men, but certainly apply to all men and women. In the infancy narrative offered to us by the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, we find a unique focus on Joseph, the Husband of Mary. After tracing the lineage of the Savior from the perspective of Joseph, (Matt. 1: 1-7) we are introduced to Joseph's response to God's invitation. 

This was Joseph's Annunciation. 

Too often we forget that an angel also appeared to Joseph, to prepare him for the significant role He would play in God's saving plan for the whole human race. He was invited to exercise his human freedom, to give his assent to the Lord's invitation - and he did. His manly response to God reminds all men that actions speak louder than words:
"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." (Matthew 1:18 - 24) 
From antiquity, Christians have reflected upon Joseph as a model of genuine manly virtue - and for good reason. His response to the angel teaches all men how we are called to respond to God's invitations in our own lives. We 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. 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's response was action. 
Joseph was a man for others. Though the Scriptures say so 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! This is, in a real sense, Joseph's Fiat, his Yes, his exercise of human freedom to advance God's eternal plan. How refreshing such manly faith and courage are in an age filled with 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 embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or victim-hood and actually came to rule Egypt, 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. 
In so doing, Joseph is a model to all men who choose to walk the way of the cross. Joseph emptied himself of self - and became 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. The child Jesus, God in the flesh, was given to Joseph. A Carpenter, Joseph taught this child how to work with wood. That was, after all, what he had to give. During these so-called hidden years" 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 in an age of narcissism and inordinate self-love. 
Since the fourteenth century there has been a specific day set aside in the Roman calendar to honor Joseph.  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 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. 
Over two millennia, the mission of Jesus has continued through His Body on earth, His Church. He has entrusted the work of that mission to all men and women who accept the invitation to empty themselves in order to be filled with the very life and love of God and then be used in His redemptive mission for the world. 
Through the Fount 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 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. He is truly 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 so desperately in need of men of courage, we need to turn to this man's man named Joseph. 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. Teaching us that actions speak louder than words 

On this day in 2005, Joseph Ratzinger, spoke some inspiring words concerning the silence of his namesake

"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)
Several years ago, in prayer, I was prompted to write these words concerning the silence of Joseph:

 
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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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary.
That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.


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