Tuesday, March 20, 2007

St. Joseph - Steward of God

St. Joseph is a silent man, not one of many words, and is described by St. Matthew simply as a just man. But although his appearances is sacred scripture are brief, Pope Pius IX raised him up as Patron of the Universal Church while Pope John XXIII had seen it fit to include St. Joseph in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

Why has the Church elevated St. Joseph to such heights? What exactly is so special about St. Joseph? What does Mother Church see in this man, who had seemed to play a minor role and then disappear into the recesses of history?

I was pondering these questions as I prayed the Office of St. Joseph yesterday and I came to this part:

The Lord has put his faithful servant in charge of his household.

Suddenly, I understood, and the meaning of the high honours bestowed on this man became clear to me. Now look at it this way. If you were going to be away when your pregnant wife is about to give birth or if you're dying and you had to choose someone to care for your infant son, what kind of person would you entrust them to? What are the qualities that you would like this man to possess?

Now, if this man is to bring up your infant son, to raise him to manhood and maturity, to teach him his religion and his commandments, to ensure that he grows up to be a good and God-fearing man, what kind of person would you choose?

Most parents are very selective of who they entrust their children to. The prospective sitter would have to be interviewed, their skills and abilities evaluated, and only if they meet the standard, only if they are caring and loving, and patient and kind and most importantly, good, would the parents entrust their child to their care and be free of worry. Many times, they would choose someone from within the family.

God the Father too is a discerning parent. He too cares deeply about His Son and wants only the best for Him. He too, like any other parent, would only entrust His Son to a person who fulfilled the criteria other parents would set, that the Guardian be a caring, loving, patient, kind, just and good man. But, since He was God, He had the ability to pour forth His grace and create such a man, with all those attributes. The fruit of that grace is St. Joseph, into whose care and protection he placed Jesus, His Son.

The trust that God the Father had for the person of St. Joseph is amazing, total and complete. He entrusted His Son, His Only-Begotten Son into the care of this man, St. Joseph, to live under his rule and his headship, to grow in wisdom and stature under him, to learn His trade from him to learn how to be a good person through his example.

What an awesome trust! When Jesus was at His most helpless and vulnerable, in Mary's womb, God trusted Joseph to do the right thing. Despite the looks that the people would give him, despite the whispers behind his back, despite the rumours that would be circulating against his honour, Joseph did as God commanded and was obedient. Joseph is the man God trusted to care, protect and defend Jesus and Mary, to take them on the flight to Egypt, to bring them back again to Jerusalem.

Joseph is the man God trusted to teach Jesus His prayers, His trade and most importantly, how to be a good person. St. Joseph the Worker is the man from whom the Creator of the Universe learned to fashion things with His hands. Wow!

Joseph is the man whom Jesus, God the Son and Son of the Eternal Father Himself, called father on this earth, sharing the title of the Almighty Himself. Joseph is the man that Jesus, obedient to the commandments of Moses which Joseph taught Him and which He came to fulfil, honoured completely as his father on earth. When the life of St. Joseph reached his end, we can imagine Jesus holding his hand and praying for him as he passed into eternity.

When Jesus suffered His passion and death, besides the Blessed Virgin who gave birth to Him and His Father in Heaven who had begotten Him, did St. Joseph not mourn, grieve and suffer as well to see the Son he had brought up and nurtured suffer such a death?

When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Almighty Father, amidst the rejoicing of the heavenly host, can we imagine one man in that throng of saints whose rejoicing was as great as any father whose Son had died and had returned again, was lost and is now found and returned?

When Jesus is enthroned in heavenly glory, would He not honour this man, whom he called father on earth?

Yes, dear friends, I finally understood the Church's devotion to this just man, St. Joseph, whom God made steward of His Son. As with all the saints, we only honour whom God honours and no matter how great the tribute we bestow, we can't out do, out match nor supass the glory that God bestows on those He loves.

St. Joseph, Steward of God's household, protector of Mary and Jesus, pray for me, a sinner that I may imitate thy virtue and purity and so come to share in the glory of Heaven with God and all His saints.

Dedicated to all the Josephs out these, especially the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now His Holiness Pope Benedict and Joee! Happy Feast Day!


Anonymous said...

Lovely post. I think my husband is asking St. Joseph to be his patron. Truly, this is a man we should praise.

Andrew said...

Thanks Shellie. We have a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker in our parish boundaries and I have always participated in the novenas and the Feast Day Mass and Procession in his honour. But it was only yesterday, whilst pondering this prayer that I finally understood what St. Joseph meant to Jesus and the role he played in God's plan of salvation.

May St. Joseph take your husband under his protection and guide him to grow in wisdom and stature as he once guided Jesus Christ our Lord.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

hehehehehehe Happy Saint's day Holy Father and Joee Blogs :D It makes us sound like cronies!

Anonymous said...

Good words.

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