It is the solemn Feast of St. Joseph, foster-father of the Only-Begotten Son, chaste spouse of the All-Beautiful, guardian of Israel’s Shepherd, teacher of divine Wisdom, provider for the Provident God, feeder of the living Bread, builder of a house for the Name. He was a man of eloquent silence, contemplation in action, a master dreamer exiled in Egypt with the One who was himself in Exodus from the Father. Joseph embraced the Immeasurable, disciplined the Lawgiver, lifted the Most High to his cheek and was kissed by divine Mercy. He taught the Word to speak, revealed to humanity’s Bridegroom the meaning of covenant love, and taught the Son to call God אבא, Abba.
What pre-incarnate Wisdom said of his heavenly Father before all ages he could now say of Joseph in time:
…then was I beside him as his artisan;
I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
Playing over the whole of his earth… (Proverbs 8:30-31)
In Joseph the Carpenter, the glorious kingdom of David had returned to the hidden, humble and forgotten beginnings that had once made David great in God’s eyes (1 Samuel 16:11) . In Joseph the Just, the royal legacy of brutal injustices was redeemed without notice. In Joseph, Adam heeded the angel’s voice in obedient hope, refusing to court the serpent’s hissing invitation to despair. In Joseph God-made-flesh healed the primal divorce of man and woman and joined man to the woman whom God had made “flesh of his flesh.” And Joseph took into his home his bride in whom God made his abode.
How marvelous is this saint!
“Father of the orphan, defender of the widow,
such is God in his holy place.” — Psalm 68:6
I once heard a lecture on fatherhood by Fr. George Rutler back in the early 1990s that rocked my world. Here are some of the notes I took:
God created all men to be fathers, biological and spiritual, and men will be judged by God primarily for the manner in which they fathered the children, and loved the women, God gave them. Men who renounce their paternal call by spousal infidelity, by their deceit or self-indulgence, by their wanton un-chastity or merciless violence become co-fathers with the Devil, who is rightly named the Orphan Maker, the father of lies who estranges humanity from God the Father and creates a culture of god-hating atheism; which is really the rebellion of orphans. Men who refuse to be images of God’s fatherhood in the world by their sins leave humanity orphaned, women widowed and abandoned, and render the eternally running Father temporally immobile, paralyzed, unable to embrace in love his lost and frightened children.
After the lecture, one of the men next to me said, “Definitely time for a general confession.”
Let me end with the words of Bl. John Paul II,
This just man, who bore within himself the entire heritage of the Old Covenant, was also brought into the “beginning” of the New and Eternal Covenant in Jesus Christ. May he show us the paths of this saving Covenant as we stand at the threshold of the next millennium, in which there must be a continuation and further development of the “fullness of time” that belongs the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.
May St. Joseph obtain for the Church and for the world, as well as for each of us, the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.