Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I
The Loud Silence of Saint Joseph
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.