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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

One of the most important personalities in soteriology is Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary. But he is also one of the less known individuals among the minds behind the natural upbringing of the Man whose death on the cross brought us salvation. The Bible hardly go beyond evoking his name in the life of Jesus apart from the pre-nativity periods and some few allusions to the infant narrative of our Lord’s history.

Who then is this less known personality that guided the mother and the child of the Holy family? In Matthew 1:1, we are told that his father is Jacob, and that he is of Davidic lineage. In verse 19 of this same chapter, the scrupulous Jewish evangelist, Matthew tells us that he is not only a just man but also a respecter of others.

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

It is this his last quality that made him decide to send away Mary secretly to preserve her honour and dignity.

We will meet him again when he is asked to run away to Egypt to save the infant Jesus from King Herod, or to return home at the death of the King (Matt. 2:13–14, 19–23). Another one of his great and silent characters is humility. He never questioned God throughout these moments of the incomprehensible ordeal to save the Holy family.

This character always kept him behind the scenes in almost all the life events of Christ.

During the presentation at the Temple (Luke 2:22–40), Joseph’s name was barely mentioned in verses 22 and 39, and what he did, thought and felt were kept silent throughout the narrative. Both Simon and Anna sang the glory of Jesus, and the joy and future hardship of Mary, but none talked about Joseph.

when the 12-years Jesus was found at the Temple, after 3 days of searching (Luke 2:41–52), he was again behind the scenes. We heard the mother question Jesus, but nothing was heard from Joseph.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ’Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. (Luke 2:48).

And even in verse 50 where we were once told what the mother did, nothing was again said about our dear friend, St Joseph.

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Let us ask God to give us the necessary grace, especially, we the male folk, to overcome our male chauvinism and accept that humility is a virtue and not a weakness.

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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Avez-vous déjà demandé pourquoi on ne sait pas grande chose sur Saint Joseph ? Pourquoi parle-t-on plus des Apôtres et d’autres saints que de Saint Joseph ? Comme vous, je n’en sais pas autant. Mais, à mon temps libre, je me pose des questions de ce genre. Je me demande aussi pourquoi pour trop longtemps, la religion a cherché à exalter surtout ce qui apparait très spectaculaire. C’est malheureusement le péché de toutes les religions.

Beaucoup nous diront que même la Bible ne dit pas beaucoup de choses sur Saint Joseph, et c’est vrai. Pourtant, on a de fois cette belle habitude d’en formuler si nécessaire. Malheureusement, notre bon Saint Joseph n’en bénéfice pas autant.

Est-ce que c’est parce que Joseph n’entrait pas dans cette catégorie des hommes forts? Il était probablement si humble qu’on ne savait pas comment le classer. Et au bon profit de Jésus — Dieu fait homme, et Marie — celle qui a enfanté le Fils de Dieu, on a repoussé notre bon Joseph dans l’ombre. Et même quand on en parle, on lui plaque l’image d’homme chaste comme si la chasteté est un trophée pour un homme marié.

Voilà pourquoi je trouve cette musique de Georges Moustaki comme le meilleur hommage à notre cher Joseph.

Joseph par Gorges Moustaki

Voilà c’que c’est mon vieux Joseph

Que d’avoir pris la plus jolie

Parmi les filles de Galilée

Celle qu’on appelait Marie

Tu aurais pu mon vieux Joseph

Prendre Sarah ou Déborah

Et rien ne serait arrivé

Mais tu as préféré Marie

Tu aurais pu mon vieux Joseph

Rester chez toi tailler ton bois

Plutôt que d’aller t’exiler

Et te cacher avec Marie

Tu aurais pu mon vieux Joseph

Faire des petits avec Marie

Et leur apprendre ton métier

Comme ton père te l’avait appris

Pourquoi a-t-il fallu…

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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

In many cultures, whenever someone dies people precipitately say, “May he or she Rest in Peace”. A beautiful and prayerful expression but the irony is that people don’t generally take their time to understand the limit of that expression.

Ordinarily, resting already implies a form of peace.

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, rest could be defined as “peace of mind or spirit”.

No wonder the Igbo people do not say “Rest in Peace”, but rather “zuru ike na ndi okwa”. I am going to elucidate this beautiful Igbo expression by showing its difference from all the Indo-European language equivalents.

The expression Rest in Peace tells us about the state in which the deceased should rest – In Peace – but says absolutely nothing about where he or she would be. It is an empty wish as it ignores that resting demands to take a break and occupy a particular physical or mental space. To better comprehend the loophole in this type of expression, one needs a little notion of basic linguistic theory.

According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the way people formulate their language says a lot about their vision of the world. And even with all the critics addressed to this theory, language remains the code of people’s culture and World View.

Going by this theory, one can deduce few things about the European World View. Though Europe has been the bedrock of Christian civilization, its languages often betray either its shallow comprehension of certain religious principles or it simply says a lot about the particularity of their World View. Rest in Peace, Repose en Paix, Requiescat in Pace, etc., all, tautologically (as rest already implies peace) say how the dead will rest but ignores absolutely where they should rest.

Contrarily, in the Igbo language, Rest in Peace, as earlier said, is translated to “zuru ike na ndi okwa” – rest among the elected. Okwa is translated into status, position, post, etc., in the Igbo language. So, when Igbo people talk about the dead, they do not wish them an empty state of being but a place of choice with the elected. They want them to rest in the midst of the ancestors at “Ala ndi muo” – the world of the spirits.

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